Transcript for Minutes before man's scheduled execution, governor grants clemency: Part 6
Reporter: With father and son both back in Texas, jailhouse phone calls confirm Kent's unwavering support of Bart as he awaits trial. Well, just hang in there. Keep calling. I love you. I love you too. I walk in this room with the bullet proof glass between us and there's Bart. And he said, "Dad, I'm so sorry. This is all my fault." And it was at that point I realized he was saying, "I did it, I'm sorry, I want to confess." Reporter: He believes his son has truly changed and repented and now feels genuine remorse. He's an amazing man. And, whether or not I'm a person incapable of love, I am a person capable of feeling a very deep respect for that man. I love him to death. Forgiveness is absolutely critical if you want to heal from your loss. If you don't forgive, you're basically shackling yourself to the event you want to grow past. Reporter: Bart, how do you feel about your mother? I wish I could talk to her now. I'd tell her I'm sorry. I'd like to redo that whole relationship from start to finish and be able to really appreciate what she was sending me. If we could all live twice. Reporter: Two years after his arrest. A jury convicts Bart Whitaker of the murders of his mother Tricia and his younger brother Kevin, and sentences him to death. If victims' rights means anything at all it should mean something even when the victim is requesting mercy and not just when the victim is requesting vengeance. Reporter: Earlier this week, Kent took his fight to its final round, the Texas board of pardons and paroles. The prosecutor unmoved. The father didn't want us to seek the death penalty. And he the victim. However, I don't represent the victims per se. I represent the state of Texas. Reporter: Kent, who has now spent more than a decade making the weekly drive to death row, asked his son be given a life sentence with no chance of parole. The odds were stacked against him. Since 1982, there have only been three commutations so close to an execution. But then -- Now to our top story tonight, a death row fight for life. Reporter: A phone call to Kent's lawyer with news beyond his best hopes. A unanimous vote to recommend clemency. A recommendation for clemency. Oh, my god. It's bizarre. It's surreal. And we're just so encouraged the system worked here. Reporter: But that controversial decision isn't the final word. Would governor Greg Abbott accept the board's recommendation? Kent goes to the governors office, but isn't able to meet anyone in person. He is a very law and order kind of guy and believes in the death penalty. There's a lot of speculation here and I don't think anybody knows what the governor's going to do. Reporter: For the longest time, governor Abbott did nothing. Bart is a dead man walking. He is taken to the death house. Prepped for the execution. Bart speaks to a chaplain. A last meal is served, chicken enchiladas. And then -- This just coming into our ears. We understand governor Abbott has commuted the sentence of Bart. Reporter: And then, with barely 40 minutes to spare, for the first time in more than a decade, a condemned man gets clemency. It was overwhelming. I'm so grateful, so grateful. Thank you all so much. He will spend the rest of his life in prison with no possibility of parole. Reporter: For this father who's endured so much, the long bittersweet journey has come to a close. I may have actually have the opportunity to be in the same room with him touch him, shake his hand, hug him. Reporter: The smallest gesture, promising to turn their past into a future together. Down the street.
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