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Atkins v. Virginia

United States Supreme Court
536 U.S. 304 (2002)


Facts

Daryl Renard Atkins (defendant) and William Jones, who was armed with a semiautomatic handgun, abducted Eric Nesbitt, robbed him of his money and then drove him to an automated teller machine where the pair forced Nesbitt to withdraw additional cash. Thereafter, Atkins and Jones shot Nesbitt eight times, killing him. Atkins and Jones were charged with abduction, armed robbery, and capital murder. In the penalty phase, Dr. Evan Nelson, a forensic psychologist and witness for the defense, testified that Atkins was “mildly mentally retarded.” Nelson’s conclusion was based on interviews conducted with people who knew Atkins, a review of his school and court records, and an IQ test administered to Atkins with a score of 59. A person with an IQ of 100 is considered to have an average level of cognitive functioning. Atkins was convicted of abduction, armed robbery, and capital murder and sentenced to death. Atkins appealed and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

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