GA executes convicted murderer Robert Earl Butts

Robert Earl Butts Jr. was sentenced to death by lethal injection on Friday in Georgia for the March 1996 murder of Donavan Parks a correctional officer

Robert Earl Butts Jr., 40, was scheduled to die Friday night by injection of the compounded barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson.

Georgia executed a man convicted of stealing a vehicle from an off-duty prison guard he met at a Wal-Mart in 1996 and murdering him with a blast to the head from a sawn-off shotgun, a state official said. Wilson's case is still pending in the courts.

In addition to denying Butts' motion for a stay of execution, the court denied his request to appeal rulings by the Butts County Superior Court and the Baldwin County Superior Court, which both issued an order denying a stay and rejecting Butts' challenge to his death sentence, according to the statement.

Strapped to a gurney together with his arms out to his sides, Butts stored his eyes closed all through the process. As the drugs entered his system, Butts groaned: 'It burns, man'. Prison officials said he refused to take sedatives. However, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, the only authority with power to commute a death sentence in Georgia, granted Butts a 90-day stay of execution Wednesday, before reversing the decision Thursday afternoon. Then he took about nine deep breaths, and after that, he lay still.

Prison officials said Butts declined to make a recorded statement before his execution.

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"I have suffered along with my father, Freddie L. Parks, for 22 years since Donovan was brutally murdered", Christopher Parks wrote in an email to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. He was the second Georgia inmate executed this year; Carlton Gary, known as the "stocking strangler" for raping and killing three older women, was put to death in March. Wilson's case is still pending. Another argument they presented was he should not be executed given the nature of the crime as he would not have been given a death sentence if he was charged today. Afterward, they set fire to the auto, court records said. Butts was 18 at the time.

His attorneys insisted in a clemency application to the parole board that Butts wasn't the shooter and asked to commute his death sentence to life in prison. A witness said Butts had given the shotgun to Wilson to hold after the killing.

In clemency pleas, Butts' attorneys claimed he wasn't the shooter and did not expect Parks to be killed.

They also said there's no evidence that Butts was a member of a gang or that Parks' killing was gang-related.

The two tried to sell the auto at a shop in Atlanta that strips down vehicles, but were turned down.

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