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'Texas 7' death row inmate will get new hearing over claim judge was anti-Semitic

Randy Halprin was among the seven inmates who escaped prison committed numerous robberies, including one in which Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins was killed.
Credit: WFAA
Randy Halprin

DALLAS — A death row inmate who was part of the "Texas 7" gang of escaped prisoners will get a new hearing over allegations that his trial judge made anti-Semitic comments toward him and frequently used racial slurs, according to a ruling from the State's top appeals court Wednesday.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that a live evidentiary hearing needs to be held over Randy Halprin's claims that his judge was biased against him because he's Jewish.

"Accordingly, we remand this cause to the trial court for a live hearing so that the parties may present evidence regarding the aforementioned issue," the ruling said.

It's unknown how the outcome of the hearing over the claims against his judge will impact his original case.

In October, a Dallas County judge recommended that Halprin be granted a new trial after considering evidence whether the judge who presided over his trial harbored anti-Semitic beliefs.

According to an Oct. 11 signed order with the 283 Judicial District in Dallas County, Judge Lela Mays found that Halprin's application for relief should be granted.

However, the appeals court this week ruled that a live hearing was not held for Mays' ruling and that one should be held "so that the parties may present evidence" over the bias claims.

The appeals court ordered the trial court to have a hearing within 60 days, and then submit its findings and conclusions back to the appeals court.

Halprin alleged that ex-Dallas County Judge Vickers Cunningham referred to him with anti-Semitic language and frequently used racial slurs.

Halprin was among the seven inmates who escaped from a South Texas prison in 2000 and committed numerous robberies, including one in which Irving police officer Aubrey Hawkins was fatally shot on Christmas Eve. After a nationwide manhunt, the infamous "Texas 7" were captured near Colorado Springs.  

Halprin had been scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Oct. 10, 2019, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution just days before.

Halprin and Patrick Murphy are the last two of the "Texas 7" who have not been executed. Murphy also got a stay of execution in November 2019, after the state refused to provide Murphy a Buddhist chaplain in the hours before he was set to be put to death.

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