Other special circumstances included Thomas Whitaker's agreement to "voluntarily and forever" waive parole and the unanimous recommendation for clemency from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this week, Abbott said.
This is the first time Abbott has been forced to make the final decision for a death row inmate facing execution. It's unclear whether Abbott will accept or reject it.
Texas governors can not grant commutation without previous support from the parole board, and the Whitaker case was Abbott's first such decision in a death row case.
Whitaker said in a statement to prison officials: "I'm thankful not for me but for my dad".
"Any time anybody's life is at stake, that's a very serious matter", Abbott told reporters at a political rally.
Thomas Bartlett "Bart" Whitaker, 38, had been one of three men awaiting execution Thursday in three different USA states.
But the governor also noted that the death sentence was harsher than the life sentence given to convicted gunman Chris Brashear, the friend Whitaker had recruited to kill his family. The prosecutor rejected a guilty plea offer because he said Whitaker wasn't remorseful and was being manipulative. "The clock's ticking. I'm just waiting".
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has accepted the state parole board's recommendation and is sparing the life of convicted killer Thomas "Bart" Whitaker. In the previous cases, then-Gov.
Tanya agreed to go to the death chamber to represent the family, so they were parted when the telephone call from lawyer Keith Hampton came with the news of Abbott's decision.
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"So I'm going to be there, as hard as it is". "He has the authority to wait until 5:55 on Thursday, but why put everybody through that?"
In his statement before the parole board, Hampton likened the situation to the Biblical Cain and Abel, referencing that God's punishment for Cain was not death, but a life of suffering. "They all came to the same conclusion". Moreover, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted for commutation.
Thomas Whitaker was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murders of his mother, Patricia Whitaker, and 19-year-old brother, Kevin Whitaker. "I put the plan in motion". Prosecutors said he hated his parents and hoped to collect an inheritance.
Kent Whitaker left his Sugarland home Thursday morning not knowing whether today would be the last day he sees his son, Bart Whitaker.
One juror in Whitaker's case anonymously told the Houston ChronicleWednesday that since Whitaker had convinced his roommate to carry out the murders for him, "the only way people are safe is if he's dead". He said he wants his 38-year-old son to live. Neither co-defendant received the death penalty.
Texas prison officials describe condemned inmate Thomas "Bart" Whitaker as almost stoic after his move from death row to a holding cell steps from the death chamber.
Whitaker had planned the murders long in advance, and it was at least his third attempt at killing his family. Unknown to his parents, the dinner celebration marking his graduation was a fraud.
Brent Whitaker, a Texas man who hired a gunman to kill his entire family, was waiting Thursday for a last-minute reprieve after his father - whom he tried to murder - pleaded for his son's life. Another man, Steve Champagne, who drove Brashear from the Whitaker house the night of the shootings, took a 15-year prison term in exchange for testifying at Whitaker's trial.