MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stephen A. Bradley remembers the murder case of Donovan Corey Parks like it was yesterday.
In reality, though, it was 22 years ago.
“Donovan Corey Parks was one of the nicest young men,” Bradley said. “Everybody who knew him commented about how he was such a decent person. He was liked by a lot of folks.”
On March 28, 1996, Parks, an off-duty corrections officer, went to Walmart in Milledgeville to get some items before returning home from a Wednesday night church service.
He never made it home. Instead, he was lured from the store and then had his vehicle hijacked by Marion Wilson Jr. and an accomplice, Robert Earl Butts, before he was taken by gunpoint onto a county road and shot to death in the back of the head.
Wilson, who has been on death row since he was convicted in Baldwin County Superior Court in Milledgeville in 1997 of murder, is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Thursday, June 20.
The district attorney said he had spoken to Parks’ father and his brother since the execution date was set earlier this week by Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge William A. Prior Jr.
Prior presided over both trials for the men who committed what Bradley described as a “senseless and heinous” act of violence.
“They are both looking forward to justice being done,” Bradley told The Union-Recorder in a telephone interview Thursday. “We’re all thinking about their family right now.”
Bradley contends the crime never had to happen.
“Not only did it not have to happen, it was for the most asinine of reasons to prove some sort of a gang duty or obligation,” Bradley said.
Bradley helped prosecute the two men responsible for the March 28, 1996 murder. Bradley assisted the late District Attorney Frederick D. Bright in preparing the cases for trial, as well as when both men were tried in Baldwin County Superior Court.
The two men convicted of shooting to death, Parks, 25, with a single shot to the back of his head with a sawed-off shotgun.
Both Butts and Wilson were subsequently sentenced to death.
Butts was put to death by lethal injection last year, and now Wilson’s execution is set for later this month. The execution will be carried out at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison near Jackson — the same place where Butts was put to death by the state.
The two men were placed on death row more than two decades ago.
“Murdock (Wilson) said very directly that he couldn’t get any higher in the Folk Gang and says he didn’t kill anybody, because he couldn't gain any status from it,” Bradley said.
Butts, meanwhile, denied that he carried out the murder gang status.
“It was Wilson who asserted that Butts had a reason to do so,” Bradley said, noting that was the motive for Parks’ murder — status within the Folk Gang.
It’s been a long wait for justice to prevail, and now the wait is almost over, said the veteran prosecutor, who handles criminal cases in an eight-county circuit.
“We’ve all been waiting for this to happen,” Bradley said, referring to an execution date for Wilson. “Wilson is one of the saddest cases that I’ve ever been involved in and he is truly a dangerous human being. Hopefully, we’re going to be able to communicate that to the Georgia Pardons and Parole Board and they’re going to allow the execution to go forward. And I believe they will.”