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Feb 22, 6:56 PM EST

The Latest: Spared Texas inmate expresses gratitude


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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- The Latest on the scheduled execution of a Texas inmate (all times local):

6 p.m.

A convicted killer spared from execution by Texas' governor says he's "thankful" because of what it means for his dad.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday accepted the state parole board's recommendation and spared the life of Thomas "Bart" Whitaker. The move by Abbott came shortly before the 38-year-old Whitaker was set for execution for masterminding a murder plot that took the lives of his mother and younger brother at the family home in suburban Houston in 2003.

His father also was wounded in the shootings but has long has favored clemency for his son, saying he's forgiven him.

Whitaker said in a statement to prison officials: "I'm thankful not for me but for my dad." He went on to say, "Any punishment that I would have or will receive is just, but my dad did nothing wrong."

It's the first time in more than a decade that a Texas governor has halted an imminent execution. Whitaker will instead serve life in prison.

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5:25 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has accepted the state parole board's recommendation and is sparing the life of convicted killer Thomas "Bart" Whitaker.

The 38-year-old Whitaker was set for execution Thursday evening for masterminding a murder plot that took the lives of his mother and younger brother at the family home in suburban Houston in 2003. His father also was wounded in the shootings, long has favored clemency for his son, saying he's forgiven him.

The seven-member parole board Tuesday unanimously recommended Whitaker's death sentence be reduced.

Prosecutors who convinced a jury to send him to death row said the parole board's decision was wrong and negated the jurors' verdict.

It's the first time in more than a decade that a Texas governor has halted an imminent execution.

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4:15 p.m.

Texas prison officials describe condemned inmate Thomas "Bart" Whitaker as nearly stoic after his move from death row to a holding cell steps from the death chamber.

Whitaker faces lethal injection Thursday evening. He was taken at midday about 45 miles (70 kilometers) from the prison that houses the state's male death row to the Huntsville Unit, where executions take place.

Asked if he planned to make a final statement if the execution is carried out, he told officials he would but had no plans to "do anything self-aggrandizing."

Whitaker is scheduled to die for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother at their suburban Houston home in 2003 in a plot to collect inheritance.

He spent the morning meeting with relatives, including his father, who has pushed to have his son's life spared even though he was wounded in the shootings.

The Texas parole board has recommended the governor commute Whitaker's death sentence.

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12:15 a.m.

A condemned Texas inmate set for execution is awaiting word on whether Gov. Greg Abbott will accept the state parole board's rare clemency recommendation to spare the prisoner's life at the urging of his father.

Thomas "Bart" Whitaker is scheduled for lethal injection Thursday evening for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother at their suburban Houston home in 2003 in a plot to collect inheritance. Whitaker's father, Kent, also was shot in the same attack but survived.

The seven-member Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, whose members are appointed by the governor, recommended unanimously Tuesday that Abbott commute Whitaker's death sentence.

Abbott could accept the recommendation, reject it or do nothing. His office has been tight-lipped about the

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