Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3, that executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments.
Around midnight on August 16, 1996, following a day spent together drinking alcohol and smoking , Daryl Atkins and his accomplice, William Jones, drove to a convenience store where they abducted Eric Nesbitt, an airman from nearby Langley Air Force Base. Unsatisfied with the $60 they found in his wallet, Atkins and Jones drove Nesbitt in his own vehicle to a nearby ATM and forced him to withdraw a further $200. In spite of Nesbitt's pleas, the two abductors then drove him to an isolated location, where he was shot eight times, killing him.
Footage of Atkins and Jones in the vehicle with Nesbitt was captured on the ATM's CCTV camera, and further forensic evidence implicating the two were found in Nesbitt's abandoned vehicle. The two suspects were quickly tracked down and arrested. In custody, each man claimed that the other had pulled the trigger. Atkins' version of the events, however, was found to contain a number 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' version of events was the more coherent and credible, and convicted Atkins of capital murder.