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|
|Criminal penalty||Death sentence|
|Spouse(s)||Karen Demuth Hill|
|Children||Justin Hill, Gloria Hill, Joy Hill|
Paul Jennings Hill (February 6, 1954 – September 3, 2003) was a convicted American murderer. Hill was convicted of murdering Dr. John Britton and Britton's bodyguard James Barrett in 1994. He was the first person in the United States to be executed for murdering a doctor who performed abortions.
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 his son's drug problem. Hill's purported religious conversion happened two years later in 1973, soon after being sent to Military School. He enrolled in Belhaven University later that year where he met his future wife, Karen Demuth, with whom he would have three children.
Hill graduated from 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 abortion providers, with connections to the Army of God.
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, Lt. Col. James H. Barrett, Air Force, Ret., outside, he shot them both at close range with a shotgun. Both Britton and James Barrett died. Hill wounded Barrett's wife, June. 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. 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
- "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
- Inmate Release Information Detail - Inmate 459364. Florida Department of Corrections. (Retrieved on 2008-05-29.)