North Texas man set to be executed for killing family

A Texas death row inmate with claims that he was intellectually disabled was executed Wednesday at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit for stabbing his two stepsons during an attack more than 12 years ago in their North Texas home that also killed his wife.

Robert Sparks, 45, was apologetic to his family for the September 2007 slayings of 9-year-old Harold Sublet and 10-year-old Raekwon Agnew in their Dallas home.

“I am sorry for the hard times and what hurts me is that I hurt y’all,” Sparks said in his last statement.

He was declared dead at 6:39 p.m., approximately 23 minutes after the lethal process began.

Prosecutors say Sparks' attack began when he stabbed his wife, 30-year-old Chare Agnew, 18 times as she lay in her bed. Sparks then went into the boys' bedroom and separately took them into the kitchen, where he stabbed them. Raekwon was stabbed at least 45 times. Authorities say Sparks then raped his 12- and 14-year-old stepdaughters.

His attorneys fought his appeal until the final minute, arguing that the jury specifically relied upon “the false testimony of prosecution expert A.P. Merillat when sentencing him to death. The appeal also claimed that the courtroom bailiff wore a syringe tie on the date of jury deliberations, “creating an unacceptable risk of impermissible factors coming into play at trial.”

All appeals were denied an hour prior to the scheduled execution time.

Sparks became the 16th inmate put to death this year in the U.S. and the seventh in Texas. Seven more executions are scheduled in the Lone Star State this year.

After his arrest, Sparks told police he fatally stabbed his wife and stepsons because he believed they were trying to poison him. Sparks told a psychologist that a voice told him "to kill them because they were trying to kill me."

According to the Associated Press, a psychologist hired by Sparks' attorneys said in an affidavit this month that Sparks "meets full criteria for a diagnosis of" intellectual disability.

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."

"Sparks committed a heinous crime which resulted in the murders of two young children. He is unable to overcome the overwhelming testimony" in his case, the attorney general's office said in its court filing with the Supreme Court.

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