HOUSTON — The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is recommending that a death row sentence be commuted to life in prison for a Fort Bend County man who conspired to kill his entire family in hopes of cashing in on inheritance money.
Thomas “Bart” Whitaker was to be executed for orchestrating the shootings that killed his mother and brother, and injured his father, at their home on Dec. 10, 2003.
On that evening, Whitaker and his 56-year-old father, 53-year-old mother and 19-year-old brother were returning home from dinner when they were each shot.
Chris Brachere, an acquaintance of Whitaker, shot the victims with a 9 mm pistol.
The mother and son died. The father — Kent Whitaker — was shot in the chest, but survived.
Whitaker wanted his family members dead so he could collect on a $1.5 million inheritance.
The trigger man, Brachere, received life in prison.
Whitaker was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Thursday, but the board voted unanimously to recommend the governor grant a commutation of the sentence to a lesser penalty. Whitaker’s father also expressed that he wants his son’s life spared.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott still has the option to reject the recommendation.