Jury must decide fate of mentally retarded man at center of Supreme Court decision

[JURIST] Jury selection began today for the competency trial of Daryl Atkins, the plaintiff in the 2002 Supreme Court case Atkins v. Virginia [PDF Duke Law backgrounder; advocacy website] that abolished the death penalty for the severely mentally retarded by a 6-3 decision [text]. Atkins has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death; the issue now is whether Atkins is disabled or not within the context of the ruling. There is no clear legal standard for determining mental retardation, and while Atkins' IQ was tested as 58 in 1998, more recently he has scored significantly higher. Atkins and another man killed Eric Nesbitt, 21, in August 1996 for money to buy alcohol. AP has more.

 

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