HOUSTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from a suburban Houston man on death row for arranging the killings of his mother and brother in 2003 so he could collect a $1 million inheritance.

Attorneys for Thomas "Bart" Whitaker argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his trial lawyers were deficient and Fort Bend County prosecutors during the guilt-innocence and punishment phases of his trial improperly referred to discussion of a plea deal that never was reached.

Whitaker offered to take responsibility for the killings and accept life sentences but attorneys say prosecutors rejected it because it contained no expressions of remorse.

A jury condemned him for the shooting deaths of his mother, Patricia Whitaker, 51, and brother, Kevin, 19, at the family's Sugar Land home.

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