What to know about the death penalty in Georgia
It was spring 1996.
A young Georgia prison corrections officer named Donovan Cory Parks had stopped by a Milledgeville Walmart after church the night of March 28 to buy cat food. Two men at the store, a pair who Parks, 24, apparently offered a ride across town, would soon shoot him in the head with a shotgun then ditch his body along a road southwest of town. The pair then stole his 1992 Acura Vigor, later dousing the car with gasoline and burning it in the outskirts of Macon.
One of the killers, Marion “Murdoc” Wilson, 42, was executed Thursday night. Wilson was pronounced dead at 9:52 p.m. following an injection of the sedative pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson, the office of the Georgia attorney general said in a statement.
His accomplice, Robert Earl Butts, was executed May 4, 2018.
The then-Baldwin County cop who led the investigation into Parks’ murder recently sent a letter that was shared with the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles asking that Wilson be denied clemency.
The six-page letter obtained by The Telegraph says Wilson is a drug-dealing, Folk gang “enforcer” who has “killed people’s pets,” “committed arson” and “shot at least three people in three separate crimes.”
The letter was written by Howard Sills, who has for more than two decades served as sheriff of neighboring Putnam County. At the time of Parks’ death, Sills was chief deputy of Baldwin County, where the killing occurred.
Sills described how Parks was killed in the letter.
- Parks was left lying along Felton Drive off Ga. 49.
- His father, Freddie Parks, discovered his body, which Sills described as “the cruelest irony.”
- Parks’ body had suffered so much trauma that his father did not recognize his body.
- Parks was shot with a copper-plated, .22-caliber steel birdshot, said to be the largest birdshot ever made. The bullets were designed to kill geese.
Five days after the slaying, Wilson was arrested at a Baldwin County office where he had gone to inquire about a pending misdemeanor case against him.
Sills, in his letter to the parole board, wrote that investigators searched Wilson’s home and “found the loaded, sawed-off 12-gauge Mossberg pump shotgun that was used to kill” Parks, along with “a cache of Folk Gang nomenclature and material.”
“Wilson,” the letter goes on, “sat down with (Baldwin) Sheriff (Bill) Massee and calmly told us in great detail what he and Butts had done, but he claimed Butts was the one who actually pulled the trigger. He told us that after pulling Donovan out of his Acura and shooting him in the street, they immediately drove to Atlanta. … (Later) they found a wooded area (in Macon) … where they abandoned Donovan’s car and burned it.”
Wilson and Butts were said to have then caught a ride back to Milledgeville with Butts’ uncle.
When Wilson was arrested, he was asked if killing Parks helped increased his rank in his gang after he explained how the “Folk” gang’s ranking system worked. Sills said he’ll never forget his response.
“Nah, man, I can’t get no higher. I’m the Goddamn enforcer!’”
Sills noted that investigators don’t know if it was Wilson or Butts who pulled the trigger and shot Parks.
“But we do know,” the sheriff wrote, “without any doubt that Marion Wilson and Robert Earl Butts, acting in concert … robbed and murdered Donovan Parks.”
Sills added that Parks was “a fine … Christian man with no criminal record” who worked part time at a Winn-Dixie.
Sills said Parks made two mistakes in his short life: “He worked hard and acquired a nice automobile, a car that hoodlumbs wanted. Two, on his way home from church he generously gave what he thought would me nothing more than a needed ride home to a couple of guys.”
Wilson will be remembered much differently, Sills concluded in the letter.
He wrote, “He is the ‘Goddamn enforcer’ of the Folk Gang in Baldwin County. … His greatest legacy besides the crimes he perpetrated (against Parks) … was that he will be remembered as the father of gang activity in Milledgeville, … an insidious tumor brought by him to that community which has metastasized to a point where random drive-by shootings are almost a routine daily occurrence.”