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August 6, 2005

Atkins does not get the benefit of Atkins

As detailed in this prior post, a special jury trial was convened to adjudicate whether Daryl Atkins — the defendant at the center of the Supreme Court's ruling in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), that the Eighth Amendment prohibits executing mentally retarded offenders — is mentally retarded and thus constitutionally exempt from having his death sentence carried out.  On Friday, as detailed in this Washington Post article, "after nearly 13 hours of deliberation, a York County Circuit Court jury concluded that Daryl Renard Atkins, 27, who was condemned to death for kidnapping, robbing and shooting a young airman in 1996, is not legally mentally retarded and is therefore eligible for execution."

The Post article provides lots of legal and factual background on Atkins the man and Atkins the doctrine.  The article closes by noting that, under Virginia law, Atkins was required to "prove mental retardation by a preponderance of the evidence."  I suspect on appeal Atkins' attorneys may argue that Virginia's decision to require the defendant to prove his mental retardation in order to escape the death penalty violates the Constitution's Due Process Clause.

Additional news coverage of the jury's verdict is available here, courtesy of How Appealing.

August 6, 2005 at 02:04 AM | Permalink


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