Daryl Atkins’s constitutional challenge resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court exempting people with intellectual disabilities from the death penalty. Despite this groundbreaking ruling, Virginia courts were unwilling to recognize his intellectual disability. Below is a timeline of events in Atkins. The timeline uses the term used for intellectual disability at the time of the events, “mental retardation.”


The U.S. Supreme Court decided Atkins v. Virginia, ruling that people with intellectual disabilities cannot be sentenced to death. Despite the ruling, the State of Virginia did not immediately reduce Daryl Atkins’ death sentence.


On August 5, Daryl Atkins was found to be not mentally retarded by a jury in Yorktown, Virginia. The state set an execution date of December 2, though his attorneys vowed to appeal the ruling.


The Virginia Supreme Court unanimously overturned a trial court’s determination that Daryl Atkins was not mentally retarded and that he was eligible for the death penalty.


Atkins’ death sentence was reduced to life without parole after a Virginia judge heard that evidence had been withheld from his trial attorneys. At a hearing on Atkins’ mental retardation, it was revealed that prosecutors coaxed and coached Jones when he was making his statement against Atkins.