Texas Gov. weighs parole board's advice on death row inmate's fate

Texas Gov. weighs parole board's advice on death row inmate's fate

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The announcement of the decision came just hours after Whitaker was transferred from the prison unit that houses men's death row to Huntsville, where he was placed in a cell near the death chamber. The board has only recommended mercy days before an execution three times since the state resumed executions in 1982. Almost 150 Texas executions have taken place since then. In a clemency petition, the father said if the death penalty were implemented, it would make his pain worse. Gov. Greg Abbott could accept the recommendation, reject it or do nothing.

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

In December 2003, Bart Whitaker hired Chris Brashear to kill his family, including his father, mother and 19-year-old brother. Whitaker had planned the murders to get inheritance money. The totality of these factors warrants a commutation of Mr. Whitaker's death sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jones also said he believes that sparing Whitaker's life will only help the governor is November's election.

In the clemency petition, he recalled lying in his hospital bed and facing the choice of slipping into despair or offering his son forgiveness.

According to MySanAntonio.com, Abbot's office did not respond Wednesday to questions about the Whitaker case.

It marks the first time since 2007 that the Texas board has recommended clemency for a death row inmate.

"Victims' rights should mean something in this state, even when the victim is asking for mercy and not vengeance", Kent Whitaker told the Texas Tribune when he heard the decision.

Whitaker will spend the rest of his life in prison, which is based on a recommendation by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The crime deserves severe punishment for the criminals who killed them.

"The board did the hard work of examining how the offender has conducted himself since then and what impact his execution would have on the surviving victim, his father, who's already lost his wife and other son", Moody said.

A trio of inmates are scheduled to be executed on Thursday, one each in Alabama, Florida and Texas, raising the possibility that US prison authorities will carry out 3 death sentences on the same day for the first time since 2010. In his previous job as state attorney general, Abbott portrayed a "tough-on-crime" attitude and regularly fought in court to move death sentences and executions forward.

Lawyers for Branch appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on arguments including that the court has previously blocked a Florida provision that allows executions for a non-unanimous jury decision and it should do so again in this case.

If the execution had proceeded, Kent Whitaker had planned to attend the execution.

The US Supreme Court, which past year refused to review appeals in Whitaker's case, could also weigh in at the last minute. Rick Perry rejected the appeals.

If Whitaker loses on all fronts, he will become the fourth man executed in Texas in 2018.

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