Jury sentences Bart Whitaker to death for family killings
(3/08/07 - KTRK/SUGAR LAND, TX) (KTRK) -- She was fighting for a man who arranged to have his entire family killed. We are hearing from the lone juror who at one point did not want Bart Whitaker to die for the murders of his mother and brother. After 12 hours of deliberations, Whitaker was sentenced to death by lethal injection for planning the murders of his mother and brother.
The jury spent nearly 12 hours deciding Whitaker's fate.
"We really didn't go into it lightly," said one juror we spoke with.
The jury asked us not to show their faces, but they did want to reveal to all how they decided to put Whitaker to death. They convicted him earlier this week of murdering his mother and brother in a botched plan to execute his entire family and inherit their one million dollar estate.
The only issue the jury says they really debated intensely is whether there was a probability that Whitaker could pose a threat to society if he ever was granted probation following a life sentence.
We spoke with the juror who was the final holdout. She says she felt only Whitaker's family was ever in danger.
"I felt his mission was accomplished. And I felt he wouldn't do it again," she told us. "Because that's what he set out to do and that's what he did."
But the other jurors eventually convinced her that Whitaker was at his core devious and therefore, dangerous.
"I think that core person always surfaces," said another juror.
Prosecutor Fred Felcman calls Whitaker evil.
"It's a proper verdict," he said. "Under the law, it's a proper verdict. It's also a just verdict."
Just maybe, but sad according to Whitaker's father, Kent, who begged this jury to spare his son's life.
"From the very beginning, I prayed that God would provide whatever was necessary to turn Bart's life around. While this is not the verdict I wanted, I believe the Lord is sovereign."
By law, Whitaker's death sentence will automatically be appealed. Right now, there are 389 people on Texas death row -- 10 women and 379 men. The average time someone waits on death row before being executed is a little more than ten years.
Two other people are facing punishment for their role in the attack on the Whitaker family. The getaway driver, Steven Champagne, accepted a 15-year prison term in exchange for his testimony against Bart Whitaker. The other man, Chris Brashear, faces a separate trial.
(Copyright © 2007, KTRK-TV)
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