Governor gives last-minute reprieve to death row inmate

- "I believe that God's hands were on this," said Kent Whitaker.

As the clock got closer to 6 p.m., Whitaker got closer to seeing the remaining member of his immediate family executed.

Whitaker forgave his oldest son Bart many years ago for orchestrating the murders of his mother and younger brother. He also wanted his father dead to inherit a million dollars, but Kent Whitaker survived his gun shot wound.

Whitaker's day on Thursday started with a two-hour, behind-glass visit with his son.

"The mood changed. We got much more somber and we realized this may very well be the last time we will see each other," Whitaker said.

But with less than an hour before Bart was to be executed, Governor Greg Abbott signed off on clemency.

"It was overpowering," Whitaker said. "I'm so grateful."

"Bart Whitaker's reaction was fairly simple," said TDCJ spokesman Jeremy Disel. "He responded 'I'm thankful for this decision, not for me but for my dad. Whatever punishment I might receive or will receive is just I deserve any punishment for my crimes but my dad did nothing wrong.'"

Now Kent Whitaker prays for an open prison visit with his son who can never be paroled.

"Where I'll be able to actually hug him shake his hand, and that hasn't happened since of 2004," Whitaker said. "I'm really looking forward to that.

In a statement Abbott said one of the reasons he agreed with the parole board approving clemency is the fact that Bart Whitaker was not the gunman who committed the murders and that gunman was not given a death sentence.

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