In an exceedingly rare move, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to recommend a lesser sentence for a death row inmate facing execution, reported the Texas Tribune.
The board voted unanimously in favor of clemency for Thomas Bartlett Whitaker, a man who is set to die on tomorrow evening. The decision now falls on Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who can approve or deny the recommendation to change Whitaker’s death sentence to life in prison.
The last time the board recommended clemency for a death row inmate was in 2007.
Abbott said at a political rally Tuesday night that he and his staff would base his decision on the facts, circumstances and law.
“Any time anybody's life is at stake, that's a very serious matter,” Abbott said. “And it deserves very serious consideration on my part.”
Whitaker, 38, was convicted in the 2003 murders of his mother and 19-year-old brother as part of a plot to get inheritance money. His father, Kent Whitaker, was also shot in the attack but survived and has consistently begged for a life sentence for his son.
“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.
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