The Bart Whitaker Case

I first heard of this case when watching the new show, Blood Relatives on Investigative Discovery. I then read the book, Savage Son by Corey Mitchell (see my book blog).  I was excited to hear a story that I had not heard of in the past as it seems that the same stories seem to be told over and over again on different magazine television programs.

On December 10, 2003 the Whitaker family returned home after having dinner together to celebrate their oldest son's upcoming college graduation.  Mother Patricia and younger son, Kevin entered the home first while dad, Kent trailed behind and oldest son, Thomas "Bart", went to retrieve his cell phone from his vehicle.  Patricia and Kevin were shot immediately when they each entered the home, Kent soon after.  Bart ran into the home to "chase" the "intruder" and he too was shot.  Both Kent and Bart were shot in their shoulders (although opposite arms) and survived.  Patricia and Kevin had been shot at point blank range and both died either at the scene or in route to the hospital.

Police investigators were immediately suspicious of the crime scene.  At first look the scene looked as if it could have been a situation in which the family walked into the home while it was being burglarized.  Items were thrown about and drawers were left open.  At closer look and investigation they saw that all the drawers looked as if they had purposely put in their place and all seemed opened the same distance and even.  They also found many things of value left undisturbed.  Kent Whitaker confirmed that very little seemed to be missing.  Although, there was some money missing that he had put in a particular place, indicating that it may not have been a stranger involved.  Investigators also soon discovered that the gun used (that was dropped at the scene) was a gun that had been located in a safe in the home and belonged to Kevin Whitaker.  The safe had been pried open but obviously indicated that the shooter knew where to look for the gun and had not come to the home with his own weapon.

Investigators also soon learned that Bart no only was not graduating from college, he was no longer even enrolled.  This immediately made them suspicious since the family had been celebrating his supposed graduation that was to happen in the next few days.  At the hospital the night of the shooting Kent has said that through his faith he had forgiven the killer, he had no idea that the person behind it was his own son.  Initially he was very angry with the police for focusing on Bart and also at Bart for "giving them something to focus on." But still he did not believe his son was involved.  Investigators then learned that friends and roommates of Barts were involved and that in fact, this was not the first time that Bart had tried recruiting people to kill his family.  Kent was finally able to resolve his feelings in understanding that Bart was in fact involved after Bart had stolen some money from him and had moved (or disappeared some say) to Mexico, where he was eventually arrested and charged with murder.  However, he has continued to maintain that he forgives his son, as he had promised he would forgive those involved regardless who it was.

Prosecutors decided to make this a death penalty case.... against Bart. Kent, as well as other family members of Patricia and Kevin tried to persuade them differently.  One of the biggest issues involving that is neither of his co-conspirators faced the death penalty, including the shooter.  Despite the efforts of the family Bart was sent to Texas death row. 

Kent continues to support Bart in whatever way that he can.  He has written a book on the story and speaks to churches and organizations on the power of forgiveness. He has since remarried.  He has also received a lot of criticism himself based on the fact that for a long time he had maintained a website for Bart where he posted letters that Bart wrote.  Many of them pertained to prison conditions (to which he has apparently filed suit against).  It has been said that Bart has never appeared to show any remorse for his actions or at the loss of his  mother and brother.

***Edited to Add***
I recently saw another episodic show on this story (a re-run so not really a new one) and I continued throughout to be astounded that Kent Whitaker forgave his son and was so against the death penalty in this case.  As the show ended I was just about to yell out to my own husband to say if one of our children killed him, I would not forgive and that if one of them killed me, I would come back to haunt him if he forgave ( :) ).  However, I stopped just short of saying this because while I can sit here and say I would never act the way in which Kent Whitaker has, I truly believe it is a situation in which you have to have personal experience before judging.  Kent maintains that Patricia too would have been appalled that the state went forward with the death penalty, that I think I can judge on, at least without it happening to me.  I would not gander to judge what my deceased spouse and/or child would think nor would I say it publicly.  Bart Whitaker took Patricia and Kevin's voices away. 

Comments

  1. That POS is filing a lawsuit over the prison conditions he has to endure!? WTF!? Maybe he should have thought about what prison, death row in particular, would be like before he went ahead and attempted to kill all his family! I feel so so so so so sorry for lil' Barty Boy! Actually, I'm not one bit upset about what he has to endure in prison. It's like they say - "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime." If he was truly sorry about what he did, he would shut the fuck up, do his time, and get on his knees and pray to Jesus and accept His sacrifice on the cross as atonement for the horrible sin he committed! His life here on Earth is all screwed up beyond repair. His life now should not concern him one bit. Bart's main concern now should be what his life after he dies will be like. Depending on his decision, it could be either Heaven with God the Father or Hell with Satan and his demons. Which will it be, ol' Barty Boy!?

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    1. I think it's pretty hypocritical for you to be sanctimoniously invoking the name of God and Jesus while simultaneously taking perverse sadistic pleasure in Bart's death sentence. You're not behaving in a very Christ-like manner. I think if his father can forgive him you can refrain taunting the condemned.

      I've read Bart's (or "Thomas", as he now calls himself) blog and there's definitely a good side to Bart/Thomas. He shows a lot of empathy for his fellow inmates and for people in general and has a lot of thought provoking insights about a wide range of topics.

      He apparently has a close relationship with his father.

      I will say however that for someone who has so much to say he has written hardly anything about his crime or his mother and brother, which is a bit disturbing.

      Also, his blog is run by a cousin or friend of his in Australia and a crime victim turned death row groupie and they generally don't really allow any tough questions to be posted, and as a result the comments section is pretty worthless (pretty much just a bunch of fans saying "right on, Thomas!") which seriously detracts from an otherwise fascinating blog.

      As far as Bart/Thomas' lawsuit is concerned, it's not a frivolous lawsuit. Texas Death Row doubtless houses some of the worst people on the planet but that doesn't justify the inhumane conditions at the Polunsky unit. The inmates are confined 23 hours a day in a cell the size of a small closet with a narrow window and no television. As a punishment cell for disruptive inmates such conditions could perhaps be justified but as the status quo for all death row inmates it's unduly harsh.

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  2. Btw, Bart didn't steal his father's money to disappear to Mexico; his father gave it to him (or at least made it clear to Bart where the money was). He admitted this at Bart's trial and described it as a "moral failure" on his part.

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  3. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of how the widespread dispersion of weapons in this society is giving people who might otherwise simply engaged in sick fantasies the opportunity to act them out. If only criminals had guns its very unlikely Bart Whitaker would have gotten one and used it to kill his family.

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    1. Do you realize that you're arguing Here that only criminals should have guns?

      Weird.

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  4. From everything I know about this case, Bart considered other options like burning the house down. He tried this twice before and even got caught when a friend called police. Two years later, he completed his disgusting mission. This has zero to do with gun control. They owned their guns legally

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    1. I just finished watching another show on this subject and according to them they had the episode where his friends went to the house and the alarm came on so they ran; then he discussed it with another friend but they didn't make concrete plans, then there was the one where the friend told the police who in turn informed the Whitakers about it. Kent Whitaker discussed this and said he and Patricia just laughed it off and knew it wasn't right although he claims they confront Bart who denied it and they believed him. I believe they said that incident took place two years before the actual murders.

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