2019-09-26 16:02:23 UTC
Robert Sparks, 45, was executed by lethal injection on 25 September
2019 in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a woman and her two sons
and rape of her daughters.
On Saturday, 15 September 2007, Sparks, then 33, entered the Dallas
home of his wife, Chare Agnew, 30, after midnight, while she and her
children were asleep. He first went to Agnew's bedroom and stabbed her
18 times while she lay in her bed. He then went into the bedroom of
his stepsons, Raekwon and Harold. He woke Harold, 9, and took him into
the kitchen, where he stabbed him at least 45 times. He then awoke
Raekwon, 10, took him to the kitchen, and killed him in the same
manner. He then dragged the boys' bodies into the living room and
covered them with a comforter.
Next, Sparks went into the bedroom of his stepdaughters, LaKenya and
Garysha. He woke LaKenya, 14, and, holding a gun on her, pulled her
out of bed and tied her up with bedsheets. Sparks told LaKenya he had
killed her mother and brothers, showed her their bodies, and said it
was her fault they were dead. He then woke Garysha, 12, tied her up
with electrical cords, and tied a washcloth around her mouth. He then
told LaKenya that in order to save her and her sister's life, one of
them would have to have sex with him. LaKenya said she would do it. He
then took her into the living room and raped her on the living room
couch. When he was finished, he brought Garysha into the living room
and raped her on the couch, next to her sister.
Sparks then took the girls into the bathroom and made them stay in it
with him while he took a shower. He apologized to the girls for the
rapes and murders. He told them that their mother had been trying to
poison him and that her death was their fault.
Sparks then took the girls into the garage, where he tried,
unsuccessfully, to change the license plate on his car.
Sparks then took the girls back to the living room. He lifted the
comforter and showed them their brothers' bodies. He remarked that
Raekwon was stronger than he had expected him to be. He made the girls
walk into their mother's bedroom and kiss her face, then he put them
in the bedroom closet. He started a compact disc player and told them
that help would come when the music ended. He then locked the closet
door and moved a dresser in front of it. After that, he finally left
Sparks then drove to his mother's house to borrow her car. He then
drove to the home of his former girlfriend, Shunta Alexander, and
their teenage daughter, Brianna. He told Alexander what he had done.
He gave her some money for Brianna and said that if there was a reward
for catching him, Brianna should have it. Alexander implored Sparks to
call the police. He called the police on his cell phone and briefly
reported that he had killed his wife and two boys and had left two
girls locked in a bedroom closet. He provided the address and then
said that he was ending the call so the police would not have time to
trace it. He then hung up, broke his phone, and left Alexander's home.
Later that morning, Sparks's cousin drove him to the Greyhound bus
station, where he boarded a bus to Austin with a ticket he bought
under an assumed name.
Sparks returned to Dallas a few days later. He phoned a police
detective and asked him if the police had found an audiocassette he
left in the house, which he said contained a recording of Agnew or one
of the children admitting that they had been conspiring against him.
After his arrest, Sparks stated that LaKenya and Garysha should be
questioned with a polygraph test about whether Agnew had been
poisoning him. He also requested testing for the presence of poison in
his body and provided blood and other tissue samples to be tested.
Investigators sent the samples Sparks provided to a lab, but it was
unable to test them for evidence of poisoning. They contacted other
labs around the country, but were unable to find one that could
perform the required testing.
Detectives also recovered the audiocassette Sparks left behind. It
contained segments of conversations he had made with Alexander and/or
one or more of the children, apparently without their knowledge. These
conversations included complaints Sparks had against the others, such
as a demand that Alexander pay for damages to his car. In the final
two segments, Sparks announced to his wife and stepchildren that he
had been recording them and that the tape would be evidence of what
"y'all" had been doing. He said that by the time police found the
tape, he would have killed Alexander's sister, Nicole, and her
boyfriend. He said that if he died, the police should analyze the
contents of his stomach, thereby proving that "they" had been "putting
shit in [his] food." The tape did not include any statements by
Alexander or the children indicating that they were conspiring against
him. An appeals judge summarized the tape's contents by saying it
"contained only gibberish."
During Sparks's trial, Harold Sublet Sr., the father of one the
murdered boys, disrupted the court several times, including an
incident where he tried to rush to the witness stand when Sparks was
At age 17, Sparks was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly
weapon. In May 1991, he began serving a 12-year prison sentence. He
was discharged upon the completion of his sentence in May 2003.
A jury found Sparks guilty of the capital murder of Raekwon Agnew and
Harold Sublet Jr. in December 2008 and sentenced him to death. The
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence
in October 2010. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal
court were denied.
In his appeals, Sparks's lawyers claimed that he did not receive a
fair trial because a prosecution expert testified incorrectly about
what his classification would be in prison if a death sentence were
not imposed and because one day, a bailiff wore a tie bearing an image
of a syringe. According to court records, however, the witness's
incorrect testimony was corrected upon cross-examination, and the
bailiff covered his tie such that none of the jurors were believed to
have seen it. The appeals courts, consequently, declined to consider
these two claims.
Sparks's lawyers also claimed that he was intellectually disabled,
citing his paranoia about being poisoned as one indication.
In an order issued by the U.s. Supreme Court on the day of Sparks's
execution denying his request for a stay, Justice Sonia Sotomayor
wrote that while she did not disagree with the denial, she was
troubled by bailiff's tie and hoped that in any future such incidents,
the judge would make sure either the offending item or the officer is
completely removed from the jury's presence.
Six members of the Agnew family, including both of Sparks's
stepdaughters, attended his execution and watched from a viewing room
adjacent to the death chamber.
In his last statement, Sparks turned to look at the family. "I am
sorry for the hard times," he said to them, "and what hurts me is that
I hurt y'all," he said in his last statement. "I love y'all. I am
ready," he then said.
The lethal injection was then started. As the drug, pentobarbital,
began taking effect, he said "I feel it," then became unconscious. He
was pronounced dead at 6:39 p.m.
"The day when the situation was going on, he said that we wouldn't
make it," LaKenya Agnew told an Associated Press reporter afterward.
"Twelve years later, we're both standing here."
(Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents,
Associated Press, Huntsville Item, Texas Tribune.)
Texas Execution Information
Texas Execution Information