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Innocent on Death Row? New Evidence Casts Doubt on Convictions

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Rodney Reed’s death sentence was suspended. But researchers say other current cases raise similar doubt about the guilt of the accused.
The number of executions in the United States remains close to nearly a three-decade low. And yet the decline has not prevented what those who closely track the death penalty see as a disturbing trend: a significant number of cases in which prisoners are being put to death, or whose execution dates are near, despite questions about their guilt.
Rodney Reed, who came within days of execution in Texas before an appeals court suspended his death sentence on Friday, has been the most high-profile recent example, receiving support from Texas lawmakers of both parties and celebrities like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West, who urged a new examination of the evidence.
Mr. Reed has long maintained that he did not commit the 1996 murder for which he was convicted. And in recent months, new witnesses came forward pointing toward another possible suspect: the dead…

Georgia executes Warren Lee Hill

Warren Lee Hill
A two-time killer was denied a last-minute reprieve by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday night after he challenged Georgia's uniquely strict standard for intellectual disability.

The execution of Warren Lee Hill for the 1990 murder of a fellow prison inmate was carried out at 7:55 pm in Jackson, Georgia.

Hill declined to make a final statement but did accept an offer to have a prayer read over him by a clergy member.

After reading the execution order, the warden left the room at 7:42 p.m. Records from previous executions show that the drug generally begins to flow within a minute or 2 of the warden leaving the room.

Hill kept his head raised, looking out at the witnesses, for a couple of minutes and then laid back and took a few deep breaths before becoming still.

Warren Lee Hill's lawyers claimed the 54-year-old had the mental capacity of a child — but the state said that wasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt, as it requires.

"Today, the Court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia," Hill's lawyer, Brian Kammer said after the ruling. "Georgia has been allowed to execute an unquestionably intellectually disabled man, Warren Hill, in direct contravention of the Court's clear precedent prohibiting such cruelty."

Hill's lawyers had hoped a Supreme Court ruling last year on Florida's standard for disability could be used to show that Georgia's standards is unconstitutional. The justices rejected that argument with two dissents.

Hill was sentenced to death for the fatal beating of a fellow inmate in 1990. 

He was already serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend five years earlier. 

His lethal injection was first scheduled in 2012 and had been postponed three times for various appeals.

"This execution is an abomination," Kammer added. "Like the execution of Jerome Bowden in 1986, the memory of Mr. Hill's illegal execution will live on as a moral stain on the people of this State and on the courts that allowed this to happen."

Hill becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 57th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

Hill becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1399th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Sources: NBC News, Reuters, Rick Halperin, January 27, 2015

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