Daily Digital News Brief for Feb. 20, 2018

The Texas parole board did something it hasn't done in two decades as it commuted a death row sentence to life in prison. FOX 26 News told you about a forgiving father who didn't want his eldest son to be executed. Bart Whitaker was convicted of having his mother and younger brother murdered and tried to have his father killed as well, so that he could inherit one million dollars. His father survived, forgave him and filed a petition asking for clemency for his son. Kent Whitaker's wish was fulfilled. Texas Governor Greg Abbott's signature is required to make Whitaker's clemency official.

More than 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida are heading to the state's capital in Tallahassee, ahead of a major rally scheduled for Wednesday. Students are scheduled to meet with Florida lawmakers to discuss gun control legislation in the aftermath of last Wednesday's deadly school shooting that left 17 people dead.19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is facing seventeen counts of pre-meditated murder.

President Donald Trump said he's directed the U.S. Department of Justice to propose regulations banning bump stocks, a gun modification allowing semi-automatic rifles to fire faster. Bump stocks have been in the spotlight since the Las Vegas shooting, when a gunman opened fire on concert goers and killed 58 people. The president also said he's open to legislation that would improve federal background checks to buy a gun.

Schools in the Houston area are still seeing threats after the shooting in Parkland, Florida. On Monday, a second student from Harmony Science Academy in Katy was arrested for making threats on social media. The Katy Independent School District is stepping up patrols after a rumor of violence at Taylor High School. The superintendent said a student posted pictures with pellet and air soft guns, and another student altered the post with captions, making it seem like the student was a threat. Those two students weren't at school on Tuesday and won't return until the investigation is finished.

Harris County is going after animal abusers. Crime Stoppers of Houston and the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable's Office have formed a multi-agency task force to fight animal cruelty. A key part of its new website, 927paws.org, allows you to report animal abuse, neglect, cruelty, abandonment and fighting. The site is sponsored so it doesn't cost taxpayers any money.

Early voting began on Tuesday for the Texas primary election. You can search for your nearest polling location and hours online. Be sure to bring your identification. Friday is the last day to apply for ballot by mail. Early voting ends on March 2 and with Texas primary election day is Tuesday, March 6.

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