Paul Jennings Hill
mug shot of Hill
February 6, 1954|
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Died||September 3, 2003
Starke, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death
|Execution by lethal injection|
|Spouse(s)||Karen Demuth Hill|
Paul Jennings Hill (February 6, 1954 – September 3, 2003) was a convicted American murderer. Hill murdered abortion provider, Dr. John Britton, and Britton's bodyguard James Barrett in 1994. Hill was sentenced to death by lethal injection and was executed on September 3, 2003.
Paul Hill was born in Miami, Florida on February 6, 1954, to Oscar Jennings Hill, an airline pilot, and his wife Louise. He was raised in Coral Gables. He was charged with assault at the age of 17, by his father, when his father attempted to get treatment for Hill's drug problem. Hill said he experienced a religious conversion two years later in 1973, after being sent to a military school. Hill later enrolled in Belhaven University where he met his future wife, Karen Demuth, with whom he would have three children.
Hill graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary, where he studied under Greg Bahnsen, a founder of the right-wing Christian Reconstructionist movement. He attended St. Paul Presbyterian Church, which espoused theonomy, a movement related to Reconstructionism. 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 abortion providers, with connections to the Army of God.
After his excommunication, Hill supported his family with a franchised auto detailing business, cleaning and detailing cars for new and used car dealers. However, his customer base dwindled once they became aware of his public agenda.
As part of his customer route, his attention was called to a local abortion clinic that ultimately would make him infamous.
Hill wrote several letters attempting to justify murder of abortion providers to Reconstructionist author Gary North several months prior to murdering Dr. Britton. North ignored the letters until after the murder.
Crime and punishment
On July 29, 1994, Hill approached a Pensacola, Florida abortion clinic, the Ladies Center, with which he was familiar. When he spotted clinic doctor John Britton and his bodyguard, Lieutenant Colonel James H. Barrett, USAF (Ret.), outside, he shot them both at close range with a shotgun. Both Britton and Barrett died; Barrett's wife, June, was wounded. 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 a retribution. On December 6, 1994, Hill was sentenced to death by lethal injection under Florida law. 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 which his backers promised him they would publish. Hill was unapologetic, 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."
Hill's purported ties to the Army of God movement as well as his life and crimes are explored in the feature length HBO Documentary film Soldiers in The Army of God (2000) directed by Marc Levin and Daphne Pinkerson as part of HBO's America Undercover Series.
- "Turning From 'Weapon of the Spirit' to the Shotgun", Washington Post, August 7, 1994
- Religion in Today's World: Global Issues, Sociological Perspectives By Melissa M. Wilcox. p. 187.
- "Who is Paul Hill?"
- Turning From 'Weapon of the Spirit' to the Shotgun, Washington Post Sunday, p. A01. August 7, 1994
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY records page James H. Barrett Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force
- Paul Jennings Hill profile
- "Mix My Blood with the Blood of the Unborn"
- The Authorized Paul Hill Website
- "Hill lives in world of black and white", Pensacola News Journal (August 24, 2003)
- Lone Gunners for Jesus: Letters to Paul J. Hill by Gary North (critical response to Hill)
- Soldiers in the Army of God (2000) released on DVD in 2006
- The Authorized Paul Hill website hosted by the Army of God
- Inmate Release Information Detail - Inmate 459364. Florida Department of Corrections. (Retrieved on 2008-05-29.)