Retardation claim perhaps misapplied to defendant.

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In last week’s column, columnist Oscar Bello singled out the case of Virginia killer Daryl Atkins and suggested it was one of grim judicial hypocrisy. He summarized it under the theme that as a result of increased mental development while incarcerated, the once retarded Atkins has put himself in jeopardy of execution. This summary is a confused and misguided jumble that caters exclusively to the defense point of view.

In fact, Atkins has never been formally classified as being mentally retarded. Rather, his attorneys point to his mid-60’s score on an IQ test as the basis for their claim which led to the US Supreme Court to rule in his favor in their 2002 decision, Atkins vs. Virginia.

However, an IQ test is not the proper tool for measuring organic retardation; rather it was developed for the purpose of measuring one’s existing knowledge and aptitude for future learning. The criminal mind can skew these results such as intentionally flubbing answers during the test, thus ensuring a lower score. Ironically, no one ever suggested Atkins as having any problems during high school. However, his deviant street smarts led him to rack up 20 separate felony convictions before his August 16, 1996 murder of Air Force airman Eric Nesbitt in York County, Virginia.

Was Atkins a helpless pawn who didn’t understand the wrongfulness of these acts? Hardly. By accosting Nesbitt, forcing him at gunpoint to drive to an ATM to withdraw money and then shooting him eight times in the head at close range in a secluded area, Daryl Atkins exhibited his understanding of premeditation, opportunity and concealment. Atkins certainly is not a rocket scientist, but he knew enough to commit this crime and likely skewed his IQ test results in an effort to save himself. Atkins is a malignant clear and present danger to whom the death penalty would be justly applied.

Rush Wickes – [email protected] United Against Crime – www.vuac.orgPO Box 25310, Arlington, VA 22202(888) 4-VICTIM(334) 782-0690