At 9.58 pm EDT on Friday, the state of Georgia executed Robert Earl Butts, the 40-year-old convicted for killing an off-duty prison guard in 1996.

Butts was charged for robbing and murdering Donovan Corey Parks on March 28, 1996, outside a Walmart store in Milledgeville. He and his accomplice Marion Wilson Jr. asked Parks for a ride and then ordered him to get out of the car before fatally shooting him. The case on Wilson is pending, the Washington Post reported.

Early Friday, the United States Supreme Court rejected a stay on the execution, which led to Georgia administering the fatal injection on the convict. The apex court did not provide any explanation for denying his appeal. 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.

“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. “I spoke at the clemency hearing yesterday, only to receive word that a stay of execution for up to 90 days has been ordered by the parole board. Needless to say, I was distraught and frustrated and so is my dad. We feel as victimized by the system as we were by the offenders.” 

Robert Butts1 Robert Earl Butts appears in a booking photo provided by the Georgia Department of Corrections, May 4, 2018. Photo: Georgia Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

After Butts was injected with the compounded barbiturate pentobarbital, he groaned, “It burns, man.” Those were his last words. Prison officials said he refused to take sedatives. He also declined an offer for prayer.

Officials at the prison claimed Butts did not make a recorded statement before his execution. When asked, he just said, “Yeah, I’ve been drinking caffeine all day.” Reports stated Butts, who was strapped to a gurney, opened his mouth wordlessly for a while and then yawned. After nine breaths, he lay still.

Separate trials were conducted on the cases against Butts and Wilson and the juries found sufficient evidence to sentence both men for killing 24-year-old Parks during an aggravating felony.

In clemency pleas, Butts’ attorneys claimed he wasn’t the shooter and did not expect Parks to be killed. 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. The prosecutors added the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” as Butts was only 18 at the time, and added the trial lawyers did not investigate his case thoroughly and failed to look into evidence such as childhood abuse and neglect.

Butts is the second Georgia inmate to be executed this year. On March 15, Carlton Gray was executed for raping and killing three elderly women. Gary was infamous as the “stocking strangler,” and was convicted for rapes and killings of 89-year-old Florence Scheible, 70-year-old Martha Thurmond, and 74-year-old Kathleen Woodruff between 1977-1978.