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May 21, 2014

Ga. Supreme Court ruling reopens Holsey execution date

MILLEDGEVILLE — In a 5-to-2 decision announced Monday, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed a Fulton County court ruling that granted a stay of execution to Warren Lee Hill.

Robert Wayne Holsey’s expected execution for the December 1995 murder of Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy William Edward Robinson IV is back in play with this decision. All Georgia death penalty cases were on hold for Hill’s case.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said the “log jam” on Holsey and four other death row inmates was removed.

Bright said the Attorney General’s office is moving forward on all five cases.

He expects a fall 2014 execution date for Holsey.

“The sentence would be carried out unless stopped by a higher court,” Bright said. “There are no guarantees in this business.”

Last summer, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan postponed Hill’s execution to review a new Georgia statute that protects as “a confidential state secret” the identities of those who supply or compound the drug used in lethal injections.

At issue in this high-profile death penalty case is whether the 2013 statute is unconstitutional.

“We hold that it is not,” Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines wrote in the 33-page majority opinion.

In Monday’s majority opinion, “we reverse the Superior Court’s ruling and dissolve the injunction that prohibited Hill’s execution with a drug produced by undisclosed persons and entities.”

Overall, the majority opinion says, “we conclude that Georgia’s execution process is likely made more timely and orderly by the execution-participant confidentiality statute and, furthermore, that significant personal interests are also protected by it.”

Holsey exhausted all possible appeals based on claims of ineffective council during his February 1997 death penalty conviction for the murder of Robinson. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the death row inmate June 10, 2013.

Bright prosecuted the original case tried in Morgan County.



 

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