Bart Whitaker

Bart Whitaker is a convicted murderer who masterminded a heinous plan to murder his family. Whitaker, then a Sam Houston State University student, hired two men to break into his family’s home and murder his mother, father, and brother in 2003.

The goal of the crime was for him to inherit his family’s wealth, which he thought would solve all of his financial problems. The crime, however, was discovered, and Whitaker was arrested and put on trial. Because of the shocking nature of the crime and the controversy surrounding the death penalty, the case received widespread media attention.


Thomas Bartlett Whitaker was born on December 31, 1979, to his father Kent, a construction company comptroller, and mother Patricia (Trish), an elementary school teacher.

Whitaker’s parents bought him numerous luxury vehicles during his high school years at Clements High School. In 2001, he attended Baylor University before transferring to Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in late 2003.

The Whitaker family

Whitaker, on the other hand, had lied to his parents about his enrollment status and academic progress, with conflicting reports claiming that he had either dropped out of SHSU months before or was a freshman on academic probation. Despite his dishonesty, his parents continued to fund his studies and even bought him a lakeside townhouse in Willis, Texas. They also gave him a $4,000 Rolex watch just hours before the murders, raising questions about their role in enabling his behavior.

The Crime: Whitaker’s Plan to Kill His Family

On December 10, 2003, Thomas Bartlett “Bart” Whitaker lied to his family, telling them he had finished his final university exams and was on track to graduate from SHSU. They went to the nearby Pappadeaux restaurant in Stafford for a celebratory dinner.

Whitaker’s plan to murder his family was meticulously planned. He enlisted the assistance of two friends, Chris Brashear and Steve Champagne, to carry out the murder. He promised them a portion of his family’s fortune and detailed instructions on how to break into the house and murder his family.

Steven Champagne, the getaway driver and Chris Brashear, the shooter(right)

Brashear entered the Whitaker family home, dressed entirely in black (including a ski mask). Following that, he staged a burglary and positioned himself near the front door, waiting for the Whitakers to return home. Bart expressed a desire to retrieve his cell phone from his car just before entering the house when he returned home.

Kevin, Bart’s brother, was the first to enter the family home and was said to have grinned when he saw the masked Brashear. Brashear, on the other hand, shot Kevin in the chest, causing him to collapse to the ground. Patricia was the next target and was also shot in the chest, falling to the ground.

Kent immediately rushed in and was shot in the shoulder, causing his humerus bone to shatter. Bart subsequently entered the house and staged a struggle with Brashear, deliberately getting shot in his left arm in an effort to deflect any suspicion.

The Bart Whitakerr family home

Brashear then fled through the Whitakers’ back door and jumped over the fence into a neighboring yard in the back. Unfortunately, Bart’s brother Kevin died minutes after being shot, and his mother Patricia died shortly after being airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital by Life Flight.

When the first responders arrived, Bart purposefully misled them by claiming that he believed the gunman was black, in order to avoid suspicion from Brashear. Fortunately, Kent, Bart’s father, survived the shooting despite losing his wife and son.

Arrest, Trial & Sentencing

Bart relocated to Mexico to begin a new life. On September 15, 2005, Whitaker was served with a death warrant.

Bart was apprehended in Mexico and extradited to the United States for questioning.

The prosecution’s motive theory revolved around financial gain, with evidence indicating that Whitaker stood to inherit approximately $1.5 million after his parents and brother died. He was also accused of attempting to profit from a $1 million life insurance payout.

As early as 2007, Kent Whitaker had already forgiven his son and his accomplices for their roles in the murders. During his son’s trial several years earlier, he had attempted to sway the jury against issuing a death sentence.

Bart Whitaker

Whitaker was eventually executed.

Chris Brashear was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years as part of a plea bargain negotiated with prosecutors for his role in the murders. Meanwhile, Steven Champagne was sentenced to 15 years in prison after testifying for the prosecution.

Failed Execution

With only 30 minutes until his scheduled execution by lethal injection, Texas Governor Greg Abbott commuted Thomas “Bart” Whitaker’s sentence from death to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in 2018.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously in favor of commutation. Bart’s father, who survived the assassination attempt, has been an outspoken opponent of his son’s execution. He is convinced that if the state executes his last remaining immediate family member, he will be victimized once more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *