Jewish death-row inmate receives stay of execution

October 7, 2019 by Jackson Richman - JNS
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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a stay of execution for a Jewish death-row inmate who was scheduled to die on Oct. 10 for being part of “The Texas Seven” that escaped from prison almost 19 years ago and killed a police officer after they held up a sporting goods store, following allegations that he was sentenced by a judge who made antisemitic remarks and has a history of bigotry.

Randy Halprin

The ruling was made on Oct. 4.

The judge, Vickers Cunningham, has been accused of privately referring to Halprin, as he sentenced him to death in 2003 for being part of the murder of Irving, Texas, police officer Aubrey Hawkins at an Oshman’s Sporting Goods store on Christmas Eve 2000, with an antisemitic slur and as “that f***in’ Jew.”

Cunningham allegedly also said that Jews “needed to be shut down because they controlled all the money,” according to Halprin’s attorneys.

Members from the Jewish community and other faith groups have pressed for a new trial for Halprin, 41, who appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.

“The appellate court has averted, at least for the moment, an act of injustice by reaffirming that hateful and prejudicial rhetoric cannot hide behind the robe,” said American Jewish Committee general counsel Marc Stern in a statement. “Now the very serious and valid claims that Judge Vickers Cunningham was hopelessly biased against Jews can be fully examined in a court of law.”

A Dallas County trial court will decide whether Halprin will get a new trial.

Prior to Friday’s ruling, Marc Rylander, director of communications for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, told JNS, “It is our policy never to comment on litigation strategy in an ongoing matter, particularly a criminal case. Our office has filed publicly available documents with the relevant courts detailing at length why the sentence the jury imposed in this case was lawful and appropriate, so we will let those filings speak for themselves.”

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