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Supreme Court refuses to hear Ohio prisoner's death penalty appeal

Supreme Court refuses to hear Ohio prisoner's death penalty appeal
Danny Hill was sentenced to death for the 1986 rape and murder of a 12-year-old boy. File Photo courtesy of Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

June 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear the case of an Ohio death row prisoner sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old boy in 1986.

Attorneys for Danny Hill, 55, said he should be ineligible for execution because he is intellectually disabled. Court documents indicate he had an IQ of 55-68 at the time of his trial for the death of Raymond Fife, well below what the state considers to be average.

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The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to keep Hill's death sentence in place. A 2002 high court ruling found it unconstitutional to execute people with intellectual disabilities.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor voted in favor of overturning the death sentence, citing "overwhelming record support" showing Hill has intellectual disabilities, including difficulties with academics, self-care, social skills and self-direction.

"Despite a mountain of record evidence to the contrary, the state courts held that Hill was not intellectually disabled," she wrote in her dissent.

Three justices on the 6th Circuit ruled in May 2020 that executing Hill would be unconstitutional, but rehearing by the full appeals court vacated the decision.

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