Texas Gov. weighs parole board's advice on death row inmate's fate

Death row inmate Thomas Whitaker awaits a decision by Gov. Greg Abbott on whether he will accept reject or ignore a recommendation for clemency from the state's parole board

Earlier this week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommended Whitaker's sentence be reduced to life in prison.

His mother, Tricia, and brother, Kevin, 19, were killed in the shooting in 2003. His father, Kent, also was shot at the home but survived and led the effort to spare his son from execution. The Governor's role is to consider recommendations by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and view matters through a lens broader than the facts and law applied to a single case.

Abbott had the option of accepting the recommendation, rejecting it, or doing nothing.

On Tuesday night, Abbott said the decision deserved serious consideration. In two of those cases, then-Gov.

"Also, Mr Whitaker voluntarily and forever waived any and all claims to parole in exchange for a commutation of his sentence from death to life without the possibility of parole".

The seven-member parole board Tuesday unanimously recommended Whitaker's death sentence be reduced.

Brent Whitaker, a Texas man who hired a gunman to kill his entire family, was waiting Thursday for a last-minute reprieve after his father - whom he tried to murder - pleaded for his son's life. Kent Whitaker and Bart were wounded.

Whitaker, his son's attorney and supporters awaited the decision in a conference room in the Texas Capitol.

Hamm, who is 61, now has terminal cancer and his lawyers have argued that the treatment he receives for lymphoma and hepatitis C have damaged his veins to the extent that it will be hard and painful to inject the drugs to kill him. After about 15 seconds, he looked at Hampton and murmured, "Thank you". "The best we were hoping was a 4-3". "This is beyond unbelievable".

"As the greatest victim in this case, you don't have to convince me how very bad this crime was", Kent Whitaker said. Here is what Whitaker said to prison officials:I'm thankful for this decision, not for me but for my dad.

Whitaker was sentenced to death in 2007, despite pleas for a life sentence from his father, who survived a gunshot wound to the chest in the attack.

"Everyone said that I did not want that to be the last vision of my son", he said. "It's a unique situation".

Evidence showed the plot included two of Bart Whitaker's friends and was at least his third attempt to kill his family. The case took a twisted turn when Bart turned out to be the mastermind behind the murder-for-hire plot meant to kill his entire family and injure him as part of the cover-up. Six months after the killings, however, he fled to Mexico, where he was apprehended a year later and put on trial. He planned the murders of his family with his roommate, Chris Brashear, who shot the murder victims and Whitaker's father, Kent, as they all came home from dinner one evening.

Death row inmates and former prison guards also sent letters to the parole board, attesting to Whitaker's good character, saying he was a model prisoner and helped other inmates on death row, according to his petition for clemency. Perry said Foster and a co-defendant in a fatal robbery in San Antonio should not have been tried together for capital murder.

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