Sparks has been incarcerated since killing three people in He stabbed the older son Raekwon Agnew, 10, as many as 45 times. Harold Sublet, nine, was also murdered too. The Supreme Court in barred execution of mentally disabled people but has given states some discretion to decide how to determine intellectual disability. However, justices have wrestled with how much discretion to allow. The Texas Attorney General's Office, which called the killings 'monstrous crimes,' said in court documents that Sparks' 'own trial expert testified that he was not intellectually disabled.
His attorneys said that at the time of his trial, Sparks was not deemed intellectually disabled, but changes since then in how Texas makes such determinations and updates to the handbook used by medical professionals to diagnose mental disorders would have changed that. Sparks' attorneys had taken his case to the U. Supreme in a bid to stop the execution but they declined the request. They had alleged his trial jury was improperly influenced because a bailiff wore a necktie with an image of a syringe that showed his support for the death penalty.
Sparks also alleged a prosecution witness at his trial provided false testimony regarding his prison classification if a jury chose life without parole rather than a death sentence.
He was declared dead at 6. On Tuesday, the 5th U. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stop his execution on claims he's intellectually disabled. They said saying his attorneys had not presented sufficient evidence to show Sparks is mentally disabled and his attorneys had failed to raise such a claim in a timely manner.
In August, the 5th Circuit did grant a stay for Dexter Johnson, another Texas death row inmate who also claims he is intellectually disabled. In that case, the appeals court ruled Johnson had made a sufficient showing of possible intellectual disability that needed further review. On whether Sparks' jury was improperly influenced by the bailiff's necktie with an image of a syringe, the attorney general's office said the jury foreperson indicated she never saw the tie and had no knowledge of it affecting the jurors.
The attorney general's office said the testimony from the prosecution witness on prison classification was corrected on cross-examination. The attorney general's office said in its court filing with the Supreme Court: 'Sparks committed a heinous crime which resulted in the murders of two young children. He is unable to overcome the overwhelming testimony'. One of the deceased's family members, who will remain unnamed to protect the identity of the victim, shared their relief that Sparks was executed as it brought closure to their ordeal.
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Waiting to die: 180 on death row, no executions since 1993
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Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women , Wetumpka . Varner Unit , Varner . McPherson Unit , Newport . No designated death row Currently all condemned prisoners are at Sterling Correctional Facility , Sterling . Denver Women's Correctional Facility, Denver. Arrendale State Prison , Habersham County .
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Idaho Maximum Security Institution , Kuna. Pocatello Women's Correctional Center , Pocatello.
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Indiana State Prison , Michigan City. Indiana Women's Prison , Indianapolis. Topeka Correctional Facility , Topeka. Kentucky State Penitentiary , Eddyville . Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women , St. Gabriel . Mississippi State Penitentiary , Sunflower County . Potosi Correctional Center , Washington County .
Montana State Prison , Deer Lodge. Montana Women's Prison , Billings. Tecumseh State Correctional Institution , Tecumseh. Nebraska Correctional Center for Women , York. Ely State Prison , Ely . New Hampshire. New Mexico. North Carolina. Central Prison , Raleigh . Attorney Robert Hutton, who has extensive experience with death penalty cases, says the reason the Tennessee Attorney General asked the Supreme Court to schedule the executions of nine death row inmates is because they have exhausted their appeals.
They could challenge that," said Hutton.
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Federal Public Defender Kelly Henry says she will oppose the executions. Hutton says the request for the execution dates comes at a time when other states that have the death penalty are moving away from executions.
He says even in Tennessee, jurors are not choosing death very often because they have the choice of life without parole.
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