The crime was horrific, the aftermath doubly so: A Texas family of four was shot by a masked gunman in December 2003. Kent Whitaker's wife and one of his two sons didn't make it, and Whitaker's initial desire for vengeance gave way to a decision to forgive, "no matter who was responsible"—and then he found out who was. The son who survived, Thomas "Bart" Whitaker, had helped mastermind the attack and was sentenced to death. And so began the elder Whitaker's quest to spare his son from the death penalty, a crusade that just took a big step forward: The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted Tuesday to spare his life, and the situation is now in Gov. Greg Abbott's hands. What you need to know:
- Things weren't looking up last Thursday: With a scheduled execution of sometime after 6pm on Feb. 22—today—Whitaker on Thursday had his appeal and request for a stay rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, reports the Chronicle.