'20/20' INTERVIEWS KENT WHITAKER WHO MADE A FINAL PLEA THIS WEEK FOR STATE TO SPARE SON FROM EXECUTION
Interview Details How Father's Love for Son Led to Forgiveness for Murder-for-Hire Plot That Injured Him and Killed Family Members
'20/20' Airs on Friday, Feb. 23 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on ABC
After a dinner out, the Whitaker family was ambushed upon returning to its Sugar Land, Texas, home in what authorities initially thought was a burglary gone wrong. All four members were shot - killing mother, Tricia, and younger son, Kevin, and wounding father, Kent, and elder son, Bart. The case took a twisted turn when Bart turned out to be the mastermind behind the murder-for-hire plot intended to kill his entire family and injure him as part of the cover-up. Bart has since been convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. With Bart's execution scheduled for Thursday evening, "20/20" features an interview with Kent, who made his final plea for his son's life this week and explains how his love for his son allowed him to forgive Bart. On Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to recommend that Bart's death sentence be commuted to life in prison. Texas Governor Greg Abbott will make the final decision this week on whether Bart will be granted clemency.
ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas anchors "20/20" airing Friday, Feb. 23 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on ABC.
The hour features interviews with Bart; Phil Prevost, a cop who responded to the scene of the crime; investigator Max Hunter; prosecutor Fred Felcman; and psychiatrist Dr. Edward Hallowell who has not examined Bart but after watching interviews, believes that he is a sociopath. "20/20" also includes police audio from the wiretapped conversation between Bart and friend Adam Hipp, in which Bart agrees to pay Hipp $20,000 in hush money so he won't talk about a previous plot to kill his parents and footage of the confession tape of Steven Champagne, friend of Bart who was the getaway driver.
After Bart became the number one suspect, he vanished and the case went cold. Almost two years after the crime was committed, local police received a call from Champagne which led to his confessing to the entire murder plot, revealing that Bart's roommate, Chris Brashear, was the gunman and claiming Bart had promised them millions for their assistance in the crime. Police located a duffle bag filled with evidence that linked the men to the crime and found Bart in Mexico when Rudy Rios, a bus boy at a country club near Bart's home, admitted to selling his identity to him. Bart was arrested and extradited to the United States. Champagne was sentenced to 15 years and Brashear received life in prison without parole.
"20/20" is anchored by Elizabeth Vargas and David Muir. David Sloan is senior executive producer.