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The case[ edit ] Around midnight on August 16,following a day spent together drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, year-old Daryl Renard Atkins born November 6, and his accomplice, William Jones, walked to a nearby convenience store where they abducted Eric Nesbitt, an airman from nearby Langley Air Force Base. In spite of Nesbitt's pleas, the two genedal then drove him to an isolated location, where he was shot eight times, killing him. Further forensic evidence implicating the two men cavan escorts found in Nesbitt's atknis vehicle.
The two suspects were quickly tracked down and arrested.
In custody, each man claimed that the other had pulled the trigger. Atkins's version of the events, however, was found to contain a of inconsistencies.
Doubts concerning Atkins's testimony were strengthened when a cell-mate claimed that Atkins had confessed to him that he had shot Nesbitt. A deal of life imprisonment was negotiated with Jones in return for his full testimony against Atkins. The jury decided that Jones's version of events was the more coherent and credible, and convicted Atkins of capital murder.
During the penalty phase of the trial, the defense presented Atkins's school records and the of an IQ test carried out by clinical psychologist Dr. Evan Nelson confirmed that he had an IQ of On this basis they proposed that he was "mildly mentally retarded ".
Atkins was nevertheless sentenced to death. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the conviction but reversed the sentence after finding that an improper sentencing verdict form had been used. At retrial, the prosecution proved two aggravating factors under Virginia law—that Atkins posed a risk of "future dangerousness" based on a feneral of violent convictions, and that the offense was committed in a vile manner. The state's witness, Dr. Stanton Samenowcountered the defense's cagayan caloundra oro escorts that Atkins was intellectually disabled, by stating that Atkins's vocabulary, general knowledge and behavior suggested that he possessed at most average intelligence.
As a result, Atkins's death sentence was upheld. LynaughU. Justice Cynthia D. Kinser authored the five-member majority. Justices Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr.
Koontz, Jr. Due to what it perceived to be a shift in the judgments of state legislatures as to whether the intellectually disabled are appropriate candidates for execution in the thirteen years since Penry was decided, the Supreme Court agreed to review Atkins's death sentence. The Court heard oral arguments in the case on February ztkins, In the ruling it was stated atkis, unlike other provisions of the Constitution, the Eighth Amendment should be interpreted in light of the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.
Accordingly, the Court sienna saint peters escort ly found that the death penalty was inappropriate for the crime of rape in Coker v. GeorgiaU. FloridaU. The Court found that the Eighth Amendment forbids the imposition of the death penalty in these cases because "most of the legislatures that have recently addressed the matter" have rejected the death penalty for these offenders, and the Court will generally ih to the judgments of those bodies.
The Court then described how a national consensus that the intellectually disabled should not be executed had emerged. InGeorgia was the first state to outlaw the execution of the intellectually disabled. Congress followed two years later, and wtkins next year Maryland ed these two jurisdictions.
Thus, when the Court confronted the issue in Penry inthe Court could not say that a national consensus against executing the intellectually disabled had emerged. Over the next twelve years, nineteen more states exempted the intellectually disabled from capital punishment under their laws, bringing the total asian montreal escort states to twenty-one, plus the federal government.
While there are 50 states, 19 don't allow the death penalty under any circumstance, making 21 out of 31 a clear majority of the death penalty states. In light of the "consistency of direction of change" toward a prohibition on the execution of the intellectually disabled, and the relative rarity of such executions in states that still allow it, the Court proclaimed that a "national consensus has developed against it.
Also, the "relationship between mental retardation and the penological purposes served by the death penalty" justifies a conclusion that executing the intellectually disabled is cruel and unusual punishment that the Eighth Amendment should forbid. In other words, unless it can be shown that executing the intellectually disabled promotes the goals of retribution and deterrencedoing so is nothing more than "purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering", making the death penalty cruel and unusual in those cases.
Being intellectually disabled means that a person not only has substandard intellectual functioning but also ificant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction. These deficiencies typically manifest before the age of eighteen. Although they can know the difference between right and wrong, these deficiencies mean they have a lesser ability to learn from experience, engage in logical reasoning, and understand the reactions of others.
This means that inflicting the death penalty on one intellectually disabled individual is less likely to deter other intellectually disabled individuals from committing crimes. As for retribution, society's interest in seeing that a criminal get his "just deserts" means that the death penalty must be confined to the "most serious" of murders, not simply the average murder. The goal of retribution is not served by imposing the death penalty on a group of people who have a ificantly lesser capacity to understand why they are being executed.
Because the intellectually disabled are not able to communicate with the same sophistication as the average offender, there is a greater likelihood that their deficiency in communicative ability will be interpreted by juries as a lack of remorse for their crimes. They typically make poor witnesses, being more prone to suggestion and willing to "confess" in order to placate or please their questioner.
Thus, there is a greater risk that the jury may impose the death penalty despite the existence of evidence that suggests that a lesser penalty should be imposed. In light of the "evolving standards of decency" that the Eighth Amendment demands, the fact that the goals of retribution and deterrence are eureka il housewives personals served as well in the execution of the intellectually disabled, and the heightened risk that the death penalty will be imposed erroneously, the Court concluded that the Eighth Amendment forbids the execution of the intellectually disabled.
In dissent, Justices Antonin ScaliaClarence Thomas and Chief Justice William Rehnquist argued that in spite of the increased of states that had outlawed the execution of the intellectually disabled, there was no clear national consensus, and even if one existed, the Eighth Amendment provided no basis for using such measures of opinion to determine what is "cruel and unusual".
Justice Antonin Scalia commented in his dissent that "seldom has an opinion of this court rested so obviously upon nothing but the personal views of its members. Supreme Court narrowed in Hall v. Florida the discretion under which U. States must closely take into the misty irondequoit escort recent medical guide on intellectual disabilities. As the court recognized in Hall v.
Floridaintellectual disability is a condition, not an IQ score, and proper diagnosis thus places great emphasis on the second requirement, related to adaptive functioning. The prosecution had argued that his poor school performance was caused by his use of alcohol and drugs, and that his lower scores in earlier IQ tests were tainted. His execution date was set for December 2,but was later stayed. In Januaryhowever, Circuit Court Judge Prentis Smiley, who was revisiting the matter of whether Atkins was mentally handicapped, received allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.
These allegations, if true, would have authorized a new trial for Atkins. After two days of testimony on the zenda ks dating personals, Smiley determined that prosecutorial misconduct had occurred. At this juncture, Smiley could have vacated Atkins's conviction and ordered a new trial. Instead, Smiley determined the evidence was overwhelming that Atkins had participated in a felony murder and commuted Atkins's sentence to life in prison.
HassellSr. Kinsered by Justice Donald W. Lemonsconsidered the two most conservative justices of the Court, wrote a lengthy dissent that was highly critical of both the majority's reasoning and the action of the circuit court in commuting the sentence.
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