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Texas governor weighs parole board's advice on inmate's fate

22 Febrero 2018

A man who arranged for the murder of his mother and brother is still facing execution on Thursday, despite a parole board unanimously recommending he receive clemency. His roommate, Chris Brashear, shot them, along with Bart's father Kent Whitaker.

State attorneys were opposing the request to block the execution, saying claims about the drug's ineffectiveness had been repeatedly rejected in the courts.

"I'm very worried about conversations that are going on and a ticking clock and I've never sat down with anybody from the general counsel's office", he said. In two of those cases, then-Gov.

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.

Kent and Patricia Whitaker and their two boys had returned home the night of Dec. 10, 2003, 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.

"We've made multiple telephone calls, we've left messages, Kent did speak at some length with a person in the chief of staff's office and said he'd love to have face-to-face meeting with the governor, but it would have to be in the morning because he promised his son that they'd be together in the afternoon", Hampton said.

"Victims' rights should mean something in this state, even when the victim is asking for mercy and not vengeance", Kent Whitaker said at a press conference at the Texas Capitol just before the board's vote came in.

The seven-member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, whose members are appointed by the governor, made the unanimous recommendation Tuesday that Abbott commute Whitaker's death sentence. Another of Whitaker lawyer's, James Rytting, said while state law language doesn't specify the governor "must" act, no decision would "look bad" and possibly spur a due process violation legal challenge. "I put the plan in motion". They sought the death penalty, and in March 2007, they got it. Brashear was given a life sentence.

An hour later, Doyle Hamm is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Alabama. Neither co-defendant received the death penalty. But authorities caught up to him less than 40 miles away from the Texas border in Monterrey, Mexico, and he was found guilty of the murders in 2007. Prosecutors said he hated his parents and hoped to collect an inheritance.

Finally, Florida is scheduled to execute Eric Branch, handed a death sentence for murdering a student in 1993.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which last year refused to review appeals in Whitaker's case, also could weigh in at the last minute.

Texas governor weighs parole board's advice on inmate's fate