On June 2, 1997, Jason Stephens and several accomplices broke into the home of Robert Sparrow, Jr. According to Stephens, he went with his accomplices to the Sparrow home to buy drugs and he claimed that they did not know about his plans to commit the robbery.
Stephens came into the home carrying a 9-mm firearm and was standing next to 3-year-old Robert Sparrow III and Consuelo Brown, Sparrow’s mother. Brown confronted Stephens, who hit her in the face with the firearm. Stephens then shot a bullet into the floor to prove that the firearm was loaded and demanded money and marijuana.
Stephens told all of the hostages, which included Robert Sparrow III, Robert Sparrow Jr., Consuelo Brown, Kahari Brown, Tracey Williams, Derrick Hosea Dixon and Tammy Cobb, to lie on the ground, and then made the hostages crawl to the bathroom. David Cobb, Robert Sparrow Jr.’s half brother and his friend, Roderick Gardener, arrived at the home during the commission of the robbery and were forced into the bathroom with the other hostages. Items taken from the men included the keys to Gardener’s mother’s green Kia.
Stephens showed the hostages his ID and said that he was taking Robert Sparrow III with him for ‘insurance.’ He said that he would leave Robert Sparrow III somewhere if he was not followed. Stephens then left with Robert Sparrow III in the green Kia because his accomplices would not let him in their car with the child.
Stephens and and the accomplices pulled over less than one mile away and left Robert Sparrow III in the car in a sunny area around 2:30 in the afternoon. The car was not found until after 9 o’clock that night. Three-year-old Robert Sparrow III was found dead in the green Kia.
Stephens claimed that the Sparrow was alive when he left him in the car. A doctor presented by the defense testified that Robert Sparrow III died from hyperthermia due to being in the hot car for the extended period of time. In contrast, the medical examiner testified that Sparrow died from asphyxiation, which included either strangulation or suffocation; however, the medical examiner could not rule out hyperthermia.
Stephens refused to name his accomplices, however Horace Cummings turned himself into authorities as one of the accomplices. The police never apprehended the other accomplices.