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TX: 5:15pm. Abbott COMMUTED Thomas Whitaker to LWOP
Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:44

Minutes before execution, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott commutes the sentence of Thomas Whitaker

Gov. Greg Abbott spared the life of a death row inmate less than an hour before his scheduled execution.
by Jolie McCullough Feb. 22, 2018 Updated: 17 hours ago

Thomas Whitaker is set to die Thursday night after 6 p.m. for the 2003 murders of his mother and brother in Fort Bend County. His father, who was shot in the attack but survived, has pleaded for mercy.

More than 10 years had passed and nearly 150 people had been executed since a Texas governor last spared an inmate from a death sentence.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott broke that streak at the last minute Thursday when he accepted the state parole board’s rare and unanimous recommendation to grant clemency for death row inmate Thomas Whitaker. Abbott's order came down less than an hour before Whitaker's scheduled execution. Whitaker was set to die for the 2003 murders of his mother and brother in Fort Bend County.
It was the first time the board had recommended to change a death sentence to life in prison since 2009 and the first time a governor accepted the change since 2007.
Abbott, a staunch supporter of the death penalty, said he granted clemency for Whitaker for many reasons: The triggerman in the murders got a lesser sentence; his father, a victim of the crime, passionately opposed the execution, and Whitaker had voluntarily waived all claims to parole in exchange, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
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“The murders of Mr. Whitaker’s mother and brother are reprehensible,” he said. “The recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and my action on it, ensures Mr. Whitaker will never be released from prison.”
Whitaker was in the death chamber's holding cell when Abbott's decision came down. He said he was thankful for the decision, not for himself but for his dad, said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
“I deserve any punishment for my crimes, but my dad did nothing wrong," Whitaker said, according to Clark. "The system worked for him today, and I’ll do my best to uphold my end of the bargain."
Whitaker, 38, 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. The roommates had planned the murders to get inheritance money.
He was sentenced to death in the murders in 2007, despite pleas for a life sentence from his father, who survived a gunshot wound to the chest in the shooting. The prosecutor rejected a guilty plea offer because he said Whitaker wasn't remorseful and was being manipulative. Brashear got a life sentence and is eligible for parole in 2035.
Kent Whitaker fought for mercy for his son throughout his death sentence. He pleaded with the parole board and Abbott not to take his son away since he had already lost the rest of his family.

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    • TX: 5:15pm. Abbott COMMUTED Thomas Whitaker to LWOP — Petra, Fri Feb 23 11:44
    • Texas Commute Bart Whitaker’s SentenceYvette Holden, Fri Feb 23 04:28
      Wow Texas commuted Bart Whitakers death sentence, just amazing. Mr Kent Whitaker is right when he said “Gods hand was on this” Texas never vote to commute not all seven.
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