FEATURED POST

America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

Image
With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Thomas Whitaker awaits Gov. Greg Abbott's life or death decision ahead of execution

Gov. Greg Abbott
As a death row inmate waits for the Texas governor to decide if he should live or die, he gets a final visit with his father, who survived his son's murder plot and later pleaded for his son's life.

Thomas Whitaker’s life is in the governor’s hands as the clock ticks toward his Thursday night execution.

Whitaker, 38, is set to die after 6 p.m. for the 2003 murders of his mother and brother in Fort Bend County. But Republican Gov. Greg Abbott could spare him by approving the state parole board’s rare and unanimous recommendation for clemency.

While Abbott weighed his decision, Whitaker met with his father, Kent, for his final scheduled visitation Thursday morning. If Abbott doesn't stop the execution, Kent Whitaker plans to stand behind a glass panel that peers into the state's death chamber and watch his son die, according to Keith Hampton, Whitaker's lawyer.

All seven members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles suggested on Tuesday that Abbott change Whitaker’s death sentence to life in prison based on his clemency petition, which included pleadings for mercy from Kent Whitaker, who was also shot in the 2003 attack, and fellow death row inmates.

Texas' death house
It was the first time the board had recommended to change a death sentence since 2009. A Texas governor has not approved a board proposal for clemency since 2007. Nearly 150 Texas executions have taken place since then.  

Abbott, a staunch supporter of the death penalty, has until Thursday evening to make a decision. He could accept the board’s recommendation, reject it, or do nothing, which would also allow the execution to proceed, Hampton said.

On Tuesday night, Abbott said the decision deserved serious consideration.

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

Whitaker, 38, was convicted in Fort Bend County for the 2003 murders of his mother, Patricia, and 19-year-old brother, Kevin. He planned the murders of his family with his roommate, Chris Brashear, who shot the three family members after they came home from dinner one evening. Whitaker had planned the murders to get inheritance money.

Whitaker was sentenced to death in 2007, despite pleas for a life sentence from his father, who survived a gunshot wound to the chest in the attack. The prosecutor rejected a guilty plea offer because he said Whitaker wasn't remorseful and was being manipulative.

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: Texas Tribune, Jolie McCullough, February 22, 2018


⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!



"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Texas: With a man's execution days away, his victims react with fury or forgiveness

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejects clemency for Chris Young

Ohio executes Robert Van Hook

Texas executes Christopher Young

The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

Indonesia: Gay couple publicly whipped after vigilante mob drags them out of beauty salon

Saudi Arabia executes seven people in one day

Execution date pushed back for Texas 7 escapee after paperwork error on death warrant

Fentanyl And The Death Penalty

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France