Convicted murderer Bart Whitaker was only 40 minutes away from execution. That’s when Texas Governor Greg Abbott stepped in and canceled it. Instead, Whitaker will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The grant of clemency comes at the request of Whitaker’s father. The man is the only person who survived Whitaker’s planned attack on his family. Whitaker murdered both his mother and his brother in the attack. The attack came in the family home.
Whitaker killed his mother and brother in an effort to hide the secret that he wasn’t graduating from college as he claimed. Instead of going to school, he had been hanging around a house that his parents were paying for. He spent most of his days playing video games. He told his family that he was graduating from school, and the family went out to dinner to celebrate.
During dinner, Whitaker had a friend go and wait in the house. When the family arrived home, the friend attacked. To make it look like an accident, the friend shot Whitaker in the arm.
Whitaker’s denials unraveled when he traveled to Mexico under a false identity. There, he met a girlfriend. The girlfriend had a fight with her parents. To her amazement, Whitaker suggested that she murder her parents.
Despite Whitaker’s death sentence, his father begged anyone who would listen not to proceed with the execution. His father said that he still loved his son and would miss him if he were executed. His father said that he was a victim of the crime, too, and his words should have weight.
The state’s attorney wasn’t moved by the father’s pleas. He said that it was his job to represent the people of the State of Texas as a whole. He said that he doesn’t represent victims specifically.
Whitaker’s father took his case to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. After reviewing the entire case, they recommended granting clemency. The governor finally made his decision 40 minutes before the execution was to take place. Preparations had already begun for the execution.
Whitaker’s father says that Whitaker has made the most of his time in prison. He’s had 11 years to think about his crimes. He believes that his son has a mental illness. Whitaker has reportedly learned Spanish. He hopes that Whitaker continues to grow and learn while he’s in prison. Whitaker’s father says that forgiving his son has helped him find healing.