Today, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend clemency for Thomas Whitaker. It is an exceptionally rare decision for the Board, whose members are appointed by the Governor. It is now up to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to decide whether to accept their recommendation.
Since 1976, the Board of Pardons and Paroles has recommended clemency in only four cases where the inmate faced imminent execution. Texas Governor Rick Perry rejected two of those recommendations and allowed the executions to proceed.
The State of Texas is scheduled to execute Thomas Whitaker on Thursday, February 22, 2018. He was sentenced to death for his role in the murders of his mother and younger brother in 2003.
Christopher Brashear killed Patricia Whitaker and Kevin Whitaker as they returned to their home in Fort Bend County. Thomas Whitaker’s father, Kent Whitaker, also was shot but survived the ambush.
Brashear received a life sentence. The other accomplice, Steven Champagne, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Thomas Whitaker allegedly arranged the murders in order to receive an inheritance.
Kent Whitaker is seeking a life sentence for his son. From the beginning, he has asked that Thomas Whitaker not be put to death. No one in the family wants Thomas Whitaker to be executed.
Thomas Whitaker’s attorneys have asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Abbott to commute his sentence to a lesser penalty in light of his father’s wishes and in the interest of mercy.
Two other states – Alabama and Florida – are set to carry out executions on February 22. The last time this happened in the US was April 28, 1999, when Texas, Missouri, and Virginia each put a man to death.