death penalty news—–TEXAS

Dec. 11

TEXAS—-new death sentence

Killer Robert Sparks sentenced to death

Convicted murderer Robert Sparks has been sentenced to death for the fatal
stabbing of his wife and 2 stepsons last year.

A Dallas County jury reached its decision this morning after deliberating
for 9 1/2 hours over 2 days.

Mr. Sparks was convicted last week of killing his wife, Chare Agnew, and
stepsons Harold Sublet Jr., 9, and Raeqwon Agnew, 10, in September 2007.
Then, he has told police, he raped his 2 stepdaughters, who were 12 and 14
at the time. He tried to justify his actions by telling police and
reporters that Ms. Agnew was putting insecticide in his food to poison him
and that the boys helped her.

Defense attorney Paul Johnson told the jury that his client is not crazy
or legally insane, but that he is mentally ill. Psychologists testified
that Mr. Sparks, 34, suffers from schizoaffective disorder, paranoid
delusions and anti-social disorder.

"He don't like me saying that about him," Mr. Johnson said during closing
arguments. "You know why? Because he don't believe it."

Now that his condition has been diagnosed, Mr. Sparks would not be a
continuing threat to society a requirement to spare his life because
he'd be on medication while in prison, Mr. Johnson said.

Prosecutors called this crime one of the most vicious they had ever seen.

"Our sole focus, our sole goal, our sole objective in this case is for…
Robert Sparks to be strapped to the gurney and for the drugs to start to
flow," said prosecutor Andy Beach.

"If this case does not deserve the death penalty, then I don't know one
that does," Mr. Beach said.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins presented the final closing
argument, a rarity for an elected district attorney in a county the size
of Dallas. It was even rarer because of Mr. Watkins' admitted personal
concerns about the death penalty.

"This is very difficult for me to get up here and ask for you to take a
human life, because I value it," said Mr. Watkins. But, Mr. Watkins
continued, Mr. Sparks "has been working for this day for 34 years. Reward
him and give him what he deserves: the death sentence."

(source: Dallas Morning News)