September 27, 2007
(AP) The Virginia Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of a death row in mate whose case prompted the national ban on executing the mentally retarded.
The justices returned Daryl Atkins' case to York County for trial on whether he is retarded, a finding that will determine whether Atkins can be executed for killing Eric Nesbitt in 1996.
Atkins' lawyers wanted the Supreme Court to decide whether the lower court could consider their claims that prosecutors in the murder trial withheld information and allowed testimony they knew was false.
The justices ruled the statute cited by the defense in requesting the appeal was not applicable in criminal cases.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins' case that executing mentally retarded people was unconstitutionally cruel.