But Fred Felcman, who prosecuted the case against Whitaker and his accomplices, thinks Bart's problems can be summed up more simply.
"I describe him as a user of people," Felcman said. "That's what I would describe him as. If there's nothing you can do for him, then he discards you."
Felcman said Bart's crime met the requirements in the state of Texas that allowed for the death penalty to be an option: that he was a continuing threat, he caused the deaths of two people, and there were no mitigating circumstances.
"He didn't live in what they call a life of crime," Felcman said. "He had a good family. There's no reason whatsoever that you could understand why he started thinking this way."
He said Kent Whitaker's forgiveness and desire to spare his son's life did factor in the decision to consider the death penalty, but that ultimately Kent's forgiving nature didn't help Bart's cause.
"You could have a great father and be the most heinous person in the whole world, like Bart Whitaker. On the other hand, you could have a crummy father and be a great guy. So we don't try cases and you don't get punished based upon how good your parents are," said Felcman.
When asked if he was scared of Bart Whitaker, Felcman said, "I understand what he could possibly do. Yes. Yeah, I'm concerned by it. ... [Bart] is probably more of a threat than anybody I have ever tried for capital murder. ... I've never met anybody as manipulative as him. Never."
Bart says that he has tried to change.
"We do have the ability to overcome our worst moments in life," he said. "We're not defined by that. We're not our best moments and we're not our worst moments."
But Felcman doesn't believe it's possible for someone who plotted the murder of his family to transform himself.
"This is his core personality," said Felcman. "You might as well ask the lion: Are you going to stop being a lion? No. That's just the way it is."