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The pieces of the appellant Daryl Renard Atkins found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and murder and was sentenced to death in Virginia state court.1996 years 8 months 16 daysMidnight, Atkins and William Jones holding semi-automatic pistol, hijacked Eric Nesbitt , forced him to their pickup on ATM withdrawals, on the pickup lens recorded the time to take money shot. Then, turn him into a secluded place, continuous shooting toward its 8 times, to kill.
In the penalty phase, two each to testify, were confirmed to be the case the other party the burden of responsibility and related details, but as to who killed Nesbitt , the second person that the other side should be responsible. As Jones 's testimony than Atkins 's more mutual coupling, credibility, and finally adopted the jury believed his testimony, and determine the Atkins guilty of murder. In the sentencing phase, the authority entitled to issue a further victim impact evidence and prove the other two aggravating circumstances: the risk of future ( Future dangerousness ) and "shameful crime of" ( Vileness of the Offense ).
To prove that Atkins has a future risk, the right authority to prove that a felony criminal record and had been subjected to the same issue of the robbery and attack the testimony of four witnesses; to prove the second aggravating circumstance, the issue of the trial record, including photographs of dead bodies and autopsy reports. While the defendant based on forensic Evan Nelson , a license to provide a defense. Evan Nelson doctors before trial, of Atkins conducted an inspection and knowledge-based Atkins who talks, school and court records, as well as a standard intelligence test ( Atkins score of 59 ), its that Atkins suffers from "mild the mentally retarded.
" Nevertheless, the jury finally sentenced Atkins to death. However, it is worth noting that since the trial court used a misleading verdict form [ 257 Va. 160, 510 SE 2d 445 (1999) ], which had the case for retrial. In the retrial process, Nelson once again to testify. Also issued in the state expert evidence to the contrary, by Stanton Samenow that Atkins is not mentally retarded, and that "at least normal intelligence," and to demonstrate that their anti-social split personality. ( App. 476. ) To this end, the jury again sentenced Atkins to death.
Subsequently, the Virginia Supreme Court had confirmed his death. [ 260 Va. 375, 385, 534 SE 2d 312, 318 (2000) ] Atkins , Virginia Supreme Court did not argue that compared with similar cases, the penalty is not applicable to its proportionate, but he claims he "suffered have mental retardation, it is not applicable to death. " ( Id. , at 386, 534 SE 2D, at 318 ) the majority of the Supreme Court of Virginia Supreme Court based on Penry case ruling ( 260 Va., at 387, 534 SE 2D, at 319 ), rejected the claim. And that the court has no intention because Atkins intelligence test scores and to the death penalty commuted to life imprisonment.
( Id., at 390, 534 SE 2D, at 321 ) but Hassell judge together Koontz judge to challenge the court's decision, they are opposed to Samenow doctors believe that Atkins has a normal IQ's view that it is legally insufficient admissible, and advocate for Intelligence is only a 9 ~ 12 -year-old level apply the death penalty is excessive. ( Id., at 394, 395-396, 534 SE 2D, at 323-324 ) In their view, "In a way, mentally challenged on their criminal acts can be compared to ordinary non-accountability, This is irresistible. on its definition, relative to the average person, this person has been substantially limited. a noble, civilized society, the judicial system if not properly consider these issues, then, will fabled. " ( Id., at 397, 534 S. E. 2D, at 325 )
The importance of these opposing views, and noted in the past 13 years, the area of legislation tremendous changes have taken place, the Supreme Court agreed to its in Penry case [ 533 US 976 (2001) ] re-established the legal considerations, and this piece made of the following sentence: Division of mental retardation death penalty is the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution the prohibition of "cruel and very sentence."
First, if the penalty relative to the offense is concerned, is not appropriate and proportionate, it is "excessive" and prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. ( WeemsV.United States, 217 US 349, 367 ) present, to determine whether excessive punishment is generally based on the "benchmark appropriate behavior" and made. ( Trop V. Dulles, 356 US 86 , 100-101 ) on the evolution of standards in this review should be based on the proportion of under the widest range of available objective evidence ( Harmelin V. Michigan, 501 US 957, 1000 ) , which The most clear and reliable evidence is from the state legislature enacted the law. ( Penry, 492 US, at 331 ) In addition, the Constitution and to authorize the Supreme Court on all citizens and their legislators whether a reasonable decision to make their own judgments.
Secondly, Penry case judgments later, great changes have taken place. Penry case, ruling that even when two states have similar laws prohibiting the death penalty, and 14 states completely abandoned the death penalty, but this does not prove that the country has also become such a general consensus against the death penalty. ( US 492, at 334 ) However, since then, there are a considerable number of states recognize the death penalty for mentally retarded is not appropriate, and in other states, similar bills have been at least one hospital in the parliament approved. The number of these states does not constitute a majority , but the change in the trend is consistent.
Although the anti-crime legislation protecting violent criminals than the legislation more popular, but many states still prohibit the death penalty for mentally retarded persons (and no state legislature to restore such attempt to re-apply the death penalty), which provides sufficient evidence to indicate that the current social awareness may be responsible for mentally retarded persons of less than ordinary criminals. When it was noted that the legislators to explore this issue in more than voted overwhelmingly to support such a ban death penalty, it will be more persuasive. More and, even in those allowed to apply the death penalty for mentally retarded state, seldom its application.
Finally, an independent assessment on the issue that the Court no reason not to agree with the consensus reached by the legislature. Medical definition of mental retardation is not only explain their below-average intellectual functioning, but that they also exist in the ability to adapt to significant restrictions. Mentally retarded are generally able to distinguish right from wrong and have the legal capacity to stand trial, but, according to the medical definition, they understand and process information, communication skills, awareness of errors from practice and the ability to learn, logical reasoning ability to control impulses and the ability to understand others have been reflected in greatly reduced. The lack of these capabilities does not mean that mentally retarded persons can be exempted from criminal sanctions, but their behavior can reduce accountability. Given the lack of ability to mentally retarded persons, the Court's view on the death penalty, the legislature provided the majority opinion in support of two reasons.
First, there is a serious problem, that's two reasons to support capital punishment - retribution and extreme crime deterrence - whether the crime for mentally retarded people. On retribution, the penalty depends on the strength of the offender can be accountability. If the common responsibility of the murderer can not yet evidence to the legitimacy of the death penalty ( Godfrey V. Georgia, 446 US 420, 433 ) , then, may be responsible for a less obviously the mentally retarded can not apply the death penalty had. The penalty in terms of deterrence, because mental retardation in cognitive and behavioral disabilities, while making them available on the moral responsibility of the relatively smaller; the other hand, due to such defects, but also makes them not may be completely aware of their behavior may have been subjects for some death penalty, and thus control their own behavior.
Moreover, even if exempt mentally retarded persons to death for the death penalty does not reduce the deterrent power of ordinary people. Furthermore, intellectual disabilities as a whole, it is the possibility of the death penalty section is higher than the average person, this is because: they may unconsciously confessed that he had never committed a number of "non-existent" crime; and can not give Their defense lawyers to the effective assistance; and they are the typical "witnesses can not" ( Poor witnesses ); while their behavior may make unfounded produce their lack of remorse for the crimes committed by the impression.
Therefore, cassation and remand. Stevens judge issued a court opinion, O'Connor Justice, Kennedy Justice, Souter Justice, Ginsburg , and Justice BreyeR Justice and other 5 -bit shared the same view. Chief Justice Rehnquist issued a dissenting opinion, Scalia and Justice Thomas agreed with the judges. At the same time, Scalia Justice has issued a objection, Chief Justice Rehnquist and Thomas joined the Chief Justice also views. Reference:http://www.huiling.org.cn/Article/Print.asp?ID=201