Executions were set Tuesday for two condemned Georgia inmates — Warren Hill, who killed a fellow prisoner, and Andrew Cook, who fatally shot two Mercer University students.
Hill’s execution is scheduled to be carried out Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. and Cook’s is set for Feb. 21 at 7 p.m., the Department of Corrections said. Both executions will be conducted at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.
The last Georgia inmate to be executed was Troy Anthony Davis, who was put to death Sept. 21, 2011, for the killing of a Savannah police officer.
Hill’s execution had been scheduled last July. But with two hours to spare, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a stay to determine whether Corrections should have followed the state Administrative Procedure Act, which allows for public comment, when it replaced its three-drug execution cocktail with one drug, pentobarbital.
On Monday, the court found that Corrections followed proper procedure when making the switch. In that ruling, the justices lifted its stay of Hill’s execution.
Hill sits on death row for killing fellow inmate Joseph Handspike in 1990 when Hill was already serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend.
Hill’s capital case has attracted national attention because two judges hearing his appeals found him more likely than not to be mentally disabled. But appeals courts declined to overturn the death sentence, saying Hill had failed to prove he was mentally disabled beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard required in Georgia. If Hill had cleared the more difficult legal threshold, he would have been ineligible for execution.
Cook was sentenced to death for the 1995 shooting deaths of Mercer students Grant Hendrickson and Michele Cartagena in Monroe County. After the couple parked at midnight by Lake Juliette, Cook, then 21, fired 14 times with an AR-15 rifle from about 40 feet away and then moved closer to fire five times with a Ruger handgun.
Brian Kammer, a lawyer for both Hill and Cook, called setting back-to-back lethal injections “grotesque enough.”
“Even more tragic,” he said, is that one state Superior Court judge had previously set aside Hill’s death sentence over mental retardation claims and another threw out Cook’s capital sentence because jurors were never told the full extent of his life-long mental illness. Those decisions, however, were overturned on appeal.