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Dad Forgives Son for the Murders of His Mom and Younger Brother

Stephen Thompson
Feb 20, 2022
12:20 A.M.

Kent Whitaker, a dad who had a happy family, lost two of his dearest family members in one night, yet he forgave his eldest son, who was charged with the murders.

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Kent Whitaker proves that he is a man of faith by forgiving his son, who plotted the family's murder. In the tragic incident, the Whitaker patriarch lost the youngest son, Kevin, and his wife, Tricia.

This happened on the same night that they celebrated their eldest son, Bart's graduation. After a thorough investigation and months of evading the law, Bart was finally convicted for his crimes. Here is what happened.

Kevin, Tricia and Bart Whitaker at a family dinner to celebrate Bart's graduation. Bart Whitaker's father Kent Whitaker [Inset]. | Source: youtube.com/oprah

Kevin, Tricia and Bart Whitaker at a family dinner to celebrate Bart's graduation. Bart Whitaker's father Kent Whitaker [Inset]. | Source: youtube.com/oprah

THE HAPPY WHITAKER FAMILY

Before the unfortunate occurrence, the Whitaker family lived in their home in Texas. Neighbors loved to visit them, and Tricia and the boys received them warmly.

They were a lovely family, and everything seemed fine with them. Photos and clips also showed that they were genuinely happy with their kids. But all this changed on December 10, 2003, the day they decided to celebrate Bart's milestone.

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He had written his final exams and graduated from Sam Houston State University. The family visited a popular restaurant and surprised their son with a Rolex wristwatch.

A family photo of Kent Whitaker, his wife, Tricia Whitaker and his sons, Bart and Kevin Whitaker. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

A family photo of Kent Whitaker, his wife, Tricia Whitaker and his sons, Bart and Kevin Whitaker. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

THE NIGHT THINGS TURNED SOUR

Upon returning home, 19-year-old Kevin and his mother were shot by an intruder. Kent heard the noise, and before he realized what was happening, he was shot too.

Within minutes the youngest son and his mother died. While all this happened, Bart ran into the house and pretended to wrestle the shooter. He got a gunshot wound to appear like a victim.

THE PLOT/CONVICTION OF BART WHITAKER

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After the murders, investigators found out that Bart was only a freshman at Sam Houston State University instead of what he told his folks.

Kent Whitaker and his family in a group photo. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

Kent Whitaker and his family in a group photo. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

They uncovered more truths about Kent's first son when an Adam Hipp, Bart's ex-buddy, confessed that he was contracted as a shooter after the University sophomore devised a murder plan. However, it was aborted at the last minute.

Two young men, Steven Champagne, the suspect's co-worker and neighbor, and Chris Brashear, a college student and Bart's roommate, confessed to the crime two years later. They explained how Bart lured his family to dinner.

Brashear disabled the family's alarm with his friend's codes and later shot the Whitakers. He joined Champagne in a vehicle, and the boys zoomed off to a nearby lake where they dumped the evidence.

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Bart Whitaker after the murder incident. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

Bart Whitaker after the murder incident. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

The cops found the discarded items in the lake, which gave them a concrete reason to arrest Bart. They traced him to Mexico, where he worked at a furniture store.

In 2007, the court found Bart guilty of capital murder and sentenced him to death. Champagne was given fifteen years in jail, while Brashear received life in prison without parole.

A LOVING AND FORGIVING FATHER

Amid the revelations about his son, and conviction, Kent remained a loving dad, visiting his son in prison. He also remarried and has become an advocate for forgiveness.

Kent Whitaker in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

Kent Whitaker in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. | Source: youtube.com/OWN

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Kent, who immediately after the murders stated that he had forgiven the perpetrators, also vowed to forgive his son when he realized the bitter truth.

He wrote a book "Murder By Family" where he shared his pain and struggles to accept his reality and has granted several interviews, sharing his faith and journey as a parent.

During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Kent, who confessed that he still loves his son, said he lived in the family home, adding that despite the murders, he chose to reside there.

THE STATE CHANGES BART WHITAKER'S FATE

In 2018, after eleven years in jail and less than an hour before Bart's execution, the governor of Texas overturned his verdict. Gov. Greg Abbott announced clemency to Bart after a rare recommendation voted unanimously for the lesser penalty — life without parole.

A few reasons, including Kent's objection to Bart's execution, were responsible for the change in the verdict. In addition, Kent revealed that he loves his son. After the change by the governor, both father and son were able to spend time creating more memories.

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