Feb 19, 2013 7:39 PM by CNN Staff

Georgia inmate granted last-minute stay of execution

(CNN) -- Twice-convicted killer Warren Lee Hill was granted a last-minute stay of execution on Tuesday, a staff attorney for the Georgia Resource Center told CNN.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay, which came within an hour of when Hill was scheduled to be executed, said attorney Kirsten Salchow. The Georgia Resource Center has been involved in defending Hill.

Hill, whose supporters say is mentally disabled, was sentenced to death for the 1990 killing of Joseph Handspike, another inmate in a Georgia state prison.

The execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. ET Tuesday at a state prison in Jackson, about 45 miles south of Atlanta.

Hill's lawyers argue that his IQ of 70 means he should be spared under the 2002 decision that barred the execution of the mentally disabled. But a string of state courts has said Hill doesn't qualify under Georgia law, which requires inmates to prove mental impairment "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Hill was convicted of beating Handspike to death with a nail-studded board while serving a life sentence in the 1985 killing of his girlfriend, Myra Wright.

CNN's Tom Watkins, Matt Smith, Bill Mears, Dana Ford and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.


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