Famous Last Words
Robyn Leroy Parks
March 10, 1992
“I’m still awake.”
Parks was executed by lethal injection for the murder of a gas station attendant. On August 17, 1977, Parks used a stolen credit card to buy gasoline. Fearing the attendant may be able to identify him, Parks shot the attendant and fled the scene. He did not realize the attendant had already printed a credit card receipt with Parks’ license plate number.
Parks was originally convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. During an appeal in 1988, Parks’ death sentence was overturned because the judge had instructed jurors “to avoid any influence of sympathy,” which was ruled unfair, and Parks was instead sentenced to life. However, in 1990 the Supreme Court reinstated his death sentence because Parks failed to bring the issue of the judge’s unfair instruction earlier.
Parks’ last words were told to his executioner after his original injection failed to sedate him. He was re-injected and died 11 minutes later in visible pain — his jaw, neck, and abdominal muscles spasmed violently and he appeared to be choking. Wayne Greene, reporter for Tulsa World, commented on the execution “It was overwhelming, stunning, disturbing – an intrusion into a moment so personal that reporters, taught for years that intrusion is their business, had trouble looking into each others’ eyes after it was over.”