Texas parole board recommends killer be spared from death

Kent Whitaker whose son is on death row speaks at a news conference as he waits for a decision on a clemency request at the Texas State Capitol in Austin Texas

Kent and Patricia Whitaker and their two boys had returned to their home following a restaurant dinner to celebrate Bart Whitaker's college graduation when they were confronted by a gunman wearing dark clothes and a ski mask.

Minutes are ticking away for convicted death row member, Thomas Bart Whitaker of Sugar Land, who's set to be executed at 6 p.m.

Death row inmate Thomas "Bart" Whitaker, convicted of hatching a plot that left his mother and brother dead and his father with a gun wound to the chest, received a unanimous clemency recommendation on Tuesday after his father pleaded for his life.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. The most recent time was on January 7, 2010, when executions took place in Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. In a clemency petition, the father said if the death penalty were implemented, it would make his pain worse.

Abbott could accept the recommendation, reject it or do nothing. The ultimate decision rests with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, however, and the three previous recommendations were ignored by former Gov. Rick Perry.

"Any time anybody's life is at stake, that's a very serious matter", Abbott told reporters at a political rally.

Whitaker, 38, faced lethal injection for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother at their suburban Houston home in 2003.

Whitaker had planned the murders long in advance, and it was at least his third attempt at killing his family.

"I think the most important thing is both I and my staff have the opportunity to evaluate all the facts, all the circumstances, all the law and base our decision on all of that information", Abbott said.

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Kent Whitaker had moved heaven and earth for years to try to get mercy for his son, whom he forgave from his hospital bed.

His office has been silent Wednesday about the case. The totality of these factors warrants a commutation of Mr. Whitaker's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Texas prison officials describe condemned inmate Thomas "Bart" Whitaker as almost stoic after his move from death row to a holding cell steps from the death chamber.

State Rep. Joe Moody, a Democrat from El Paso who chairs the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, said in a letter to Abbott that he understood the jury's desire to carry out the ultimate punishment, but asked the governor to grant clemency.

Bart Whitaker had his mum and brother killed for inheritance but his father, who survived being shot, fought for his son's life.

More than 10 years had passed and almost 150 people had been executed since a Texas governor last spared an inmate from a death sentence.

However, after a bitter legal battle, a court finally ruled on Tuesday that Hamm's execution will go ahead, on condition that he is injected in his legs or feet - instead of his arms or hands, as would usually be the case.

Alabama, Florida and Texas plan to execute inmates on Thursday and if carried out, it would be the first time in eight years that three people on death row have been executed on the same day since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States.

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