Texas The Judge Thinks The Convictions And Death Sentences For Seven Prison Escapees Should Be Overturned: Texas A state district court suggested on Monday that Randy Halprin’s 2003 capital murder conviction and death sentence be overturned because the judge in the case had anti-Semitic beliefs. Halprin managed to escape from seven prisons.
The Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court, postponed Halprin’s scheduled execution and requested Judge Lela Mays to reconsider the case roughly three years ago. Halprin, a Jew, has claimed that because former State District Judge Vickers Cunningham harbored a bias against him, he wasn’t given a fair trial.
The ultimate choice will be made by the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals. The supreme court’s decision is not subject to any deadline.
Halprin is one of the seven prisoners, dubbed the “Texas Seven,” who broke free from the John B. Connally Unit outside of Kenedy in December 2000. On Christmas Eve of that year, they murdered Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins during a heist.
All of the Texas Seven were subsequently found guilty and given death sentences, with the exception of Larry Harper, who took his own life before being apprehended. Four were put to death. Alongside Halprin, only Patrick Murphy is still waiting to die.
Halprin has refuted allegations that he was one of the guys who shot Hawkins. He was incarcerated for 30 years for assaulting a kid in Tarrant County before making his escape in 2000.
Mays had previously proposed a new trial for Halprin, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals concluded that more evidence was required before making a decision.
Halprin’s appeal is being handled by Tarrant County prosecutors after Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot withdrew his office due to Cunningham’s daughter working for him. District Attorney Sharen Wilson and prosecutor Anne Grady said Halprin’s right to a fair trial was violated following a three-day hearing in August to assess if Cunningham was biassed.
Mays’ recommendation, released on Monday, accepted the conclusions of the defense team. She argued that Halprin “was denied rights to the free exercise of religion, the fair process of law, and equal protection of the laws” and that the Court of Criminal Appeals ought to “vacate the judgments of conviction and execution” against him.
Cunningham has previously declined to comment on the situation; he was not immediately available. His legal team declined to respond on Tuesday.
In a written statement, Tivon Schardl, an attorney for Halprin, claimed that the Constitution “allows just one remedy in circumstances of judicial bias,” which is to overturn the previous ruling and conduct a fresh trial.
Judge Mays, as well as the residents of Dallas County and the State of Texas, “found their champion today for due process and equality under the law,” according to Schardl. “We are hopeful the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will adhere to the law, accept the State’s concessions, and approve the trial court’s recommendations,” the statement continued.
Cunningham has been charged by Halprin’s counsel with using slurs frequently while referring to people of color, including the N-word, and calling Halprin “that [expletive] Jew” throughout his trial. The accusation has been refuted by Cunningham, who claims that the allegations are “lies from my estranged brother and his cronies.”
Vic Cunningham was a lifelong racist, according to his brother Bill Cunningham, who spoke with The Dallas Morning News in 2018. The former judge insisted he wasn’t a bigot but acknowledged that a provision in a trust fund set up for his children contains incentives for getting married to someone who is white, Christian, and of the opposite sex.
Mays stated that Cunningham “harbored true, subjective bias against Halprin” because he is Jewish in her recommendation for a new trial from the previous year. She claimed that his prejudice had an impact on jury selection and the admissibility of evidence during the trial.
Mays stated at the time that “Judge Cunningham’s bias against Halprin not only hurt him, but it also weakened the public’s belief that criminal justice has been — and will be — dispensed impartially.”