In a rare move, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted Tuesday to recommend a lesser sentence for a death row inmate facing execution, the Texas Tribune reports. The board voted unanimously in favor of clemency for Thomas Whitaker, a man who is set to die on Thursday evening. The decision now falls on Gov. Greg Abbott, 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.
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. Thomas Whitaker, then 23, came home from dinner with his family knowing that his roommate Chris Brashear was waiting there to kill them. When they entered the house, Brashear shot and wounded Thomas’ father and killed his mother, Patricia, and 19-year-old brother, Kevin. Whitaker fled to Mexico, but was arrested more than a year later. Whitaker offered to plead guilty to two life sentences, but the prosecution rejected the offer, saying Whitaker wasn’t remorseful and was being manipulative. He got a death sentence; Brashear was sentenced to life in in prison.