The men, when arrested, had conflicting stories, both claiming the other pulled the trigger. Atkins story continued to conflict itself while Jones stayed steadfast. In exchange for testifying against Atkins, Jones took a life sentence. Atkins was charged with capitol murder in 2002 and sentenced to the death penalty, even though a psychologist had deemed him mentally retarded with an IQ of 59.
Atkins sentencing was reversed due to an incorrect verdict form. At retrial Atkins was again sentenced to death and a date set for December 2, 2005, but was later stayed. In 2008, Circuit Court Judge Prentis Smiley found prosecutorial misconduct in the trial. Deciding that a retrial was not needed, due to his belief that Atkins was indeed guilty, Smiley commuted his sentence to life in prison.
It is my belief that the punishment should fit the crime. Eric Nesbitt was a serviceman, brother and son, who was taken away by a despicable act. It was premeditated. Even after our investigation I have still taken time to drive down Crawford Road, stop and say a few things for this young man who I never met, but I feel connected to somehow. It may have been the emotions of the night we were there, or my feelings on the case. I am certain he is missed by many