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Paul Hill
Born February 6, 1954(1954-02-06)
Miami, Florida
Died September 3, 2003 (aged 49)
Starke, Florida
Charge(s) Murder
Penalty Death sentence
Status Executed
Occupation Minister (defrocked)
Spouse Karen Demuth Hill
Parents Oscar Jennings Hill, Louise Hill
Children Justin, Gloria, and Joy Hill

Paul Jennings Hill (February 6, 1954 – September 3, 2003) was the first person in the United States to be executed for murdering a doctor who performed abortions.


Early life

Paul Hill was born in Miami, Florida on February 6, 1954, to Oscar Jennings Hill, an airline pilot, and his wife Louise. Hill was raised in Coral Gables, where he was quiet and reserved, but well liked in high school. He was charged with assault at the age of 17 by his father when his father attempted to get treatment for his son's drug problem.

Hill in 1993.

Hill's religious conversion happened two years later in 1973, soon after being sent to Military School.[1] He enrolled in Belhaven College later that year where he met his future wife, Karen Demuth, with whom he would have three children.

Early career

Hill graduated from Belhaven College and Reformed Theological Seminary. Following his ordination in 1984, Hill became a minister affiliated with both the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

He was excommunicated in 1993 following a number of nationally televised appearances, in which he claimed to be the new national spokesperson for defensive action against abortionists, with connections to the Army of God.[2][3]

Crime and punishment

On July 29, 1994, Hill approached a Pensacola, Florida abortion clinic with which he was familiar. When he spotted clinic doctor John Britton and his bodyguard, James Barrett, outside, he shot them both at close range with a shotgun. Hill also wounded Barrett's wife, Joan. Following the shots, Hill laid his shotgun on the ground and waited to be arrested.

During his trial, the judge did not allow Hill to use an affirmative defense justification. Hill said he viewed the acts as defensive rather than retributive. On December 6, 1994, Hill was sentenced to death by lethal injection under Florida law.[4] His death warrant was signed nine years later by Governor Jeb Bush.

In a statement before his execution, Hill said that he felt no remorse for his actions, and that he expected "a great reward in Heaven". Hill left behind a manuscript manifesto[5] which his backers promised him they would publish. That manifesto and his address to the jury that convicted him echoed the words of John Brown,[6] who had attempted to incite a violent insurrection to end slavery in the United States. Hill was not apologetic for the killings, and in his last words he encouraged others who believe abortion is an illegitimate use of lethal force to "do what you have to do to stop it".[4][7][8][9][10]

Hill died by lethal injection in Florida State Prison on September 3, 2003.

See also


External links

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