Texas

Texas man condemned for family murder plot loses federal appeal

HOUSTON (AP) - A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from a suburban Houston man on death row for arranging the killings of his mother and brother in 2003 so he could collect a $1 million inheritance.

Attorneys for Thomas "Bart" Whitaker argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his trial lawyers were deficient and Fort Bend County prosecutors during the guilt-innocence and punishment phases of his trial improperly referred to discussion of a plea deal that never was reached.

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Whitaker offered to take responsibility for the killings and accept life sentences but attorneys say prosecutors rejected it because it contained no expressions of remorse.

A jury condemned him for the shooting deaths of his mother, Patricia Whitaker, 51, and brother, Kevin, 19, at the family's Sugar Land home.


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