ABC 20/20 interviews Kent Whitaker, the father of murderer Thomas “Bart” Whitaker. Bart hired a man to kill his family in their Sugar Land, Texas home on December 10, 2003. That evening, Kent and his wife Tricia took Bart and his 19-year-old brother Kevin to dinner to celebrate Bart’s forthcoming graduation from Sam Houston State University. (That was a lie, Bart wasn’t about to graduate.) They presented Bart with a Rolex watch. When they returned home, Bart said he left his phone in the car while his brother walked into the house first and was shot dead. His mother was also shot dead. Kent was shot and survived. Bart was shot in the arm too “to make him appear to be a victim.” In March 2007, Bart was convicted of the capital murder of his mother and brother and was sentenced to death.
Bart’s father Kent has forgiven his son and has fought for Bart to be removed from Death Row. On February 22, the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott announced he would grant clemency to Bart who is now 38. He will spend his life in prison without the possibility of parole. It was Governor Abbott’s first commutation of a death sentence. (He has allowed 30 executions during his three years as governor.) Kent Whitaker has remarried. His new wife is Tanya Youngling; together they run the Christian ministry Bigger Picture Ministries. Kent is the author of the non-fiction, true crime book, Murder by Family (see link above). All author proceeds go to charity. 20/20 airs Fridays at 10pm on ABC.