On November 21, 1973 three hitchhikers, Troy Gregg, Floyd Allen, and Dennis Weaver were picked up by motorists Fred Simmons and Bob Moore. The three men were picked up in northern Florida and once Weaver had reached Atlanta, Georgia, left their company. In the early morning hours of November 22, the bodies of Simmons and Moore were found in a ditch. Weaver, after recognizing the names of the slain men in an Atlanta newspaper, contacted the police. Troy Gregg signed a statement that he robbed and shot Moore and Simmons, but claimed that he killed them in self-defense.

The case went to state court in Georgia. The defendant was Troy Leon Gregg, who was charged with armed robbery and murder. The plaintiff was the state of Georgia, who sought the death penalty. The court ruled in favor of Georgia, sentencing Troy Gregg to be executed.

Shortly before the Gregg v. Georgia case, the 1972 case Furman v. Georgia outlawed capital punishment, deeming it cruel and unusual punishment. By 1974, though, 28 states had adopted new death penalty statutes, and by 1976, 35 states had rewritten their death penalty laws. Because of this discrepancy in state laws regarding capital punishment, the Gregg v. Georgia case was heard in the Supreme Court to determine if death penalty laws are constitutional.

On July 2, 1976 the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty is not unconstitutional. The statute is “not cruel and unusual punishment” if ‘drafted to ensure adequate info and guidance.’ The Georgia v. Gregg case overturned the Furman v. Georgia case, and set a precedent when it reinstated the death penalty in all fifty states.