FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Nearly two decades after Randy Halprin, one of the notorious "Texas 7" gang was convicted and sentenced to death, his attorneys are seeking a new trial.
"Today's filing by the office of Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson sends a clear message: the Constitution guarantees a fair trial before a fair court, and in the State of Texas, neither the prosecution, nor the defense, nor any reviewing court can let stand a judgment handed down by a biased judge," said Halprin's attorney Tivon Schardl in a statement sent to CBS 11 News.
Halprin was among seven escaped Texas inmates who went on a month-long reign of terror starting around Christmas 2000. The group later robbed a sporting goods store in Irving, fatally shooting responding police officer Aubrey Hawkins as they fled.
Halprin's attorneys allege the judge who presided over his trial, Vickers Cunningham, was biased against Halprin because he is Jewish and frequently used racial slurs.
A newspaper story revealed in 2018, when Cunningham was running for county commissioner, that he allegedly created a trust for his children that withheld money if they chose to marry someone who was not White or not Christian.
The story also quoted a former campaign worker who said Cunningham used a racial slur to describe Black defendants. In response, Cunningham denied ever using the racial slur and said previously in a statement that his "views on interracial marriage have evolved" since he set up the trust in 2010.
Halprin's lawyers followed up with an investigation of their own that found Cunningham used racial slurs not only to talk about African Americans but also to talk about Jews and Latinos. The investigation also found he allegedly threatened not to pay for his daughter's law school tuition unless she broke up with a Jewish boyfriend.
Based on new testimony at a hearing conducted last month, Halprin's lawyers said testimony from the judge's brother, Bill Cunningham, showed that at the time of trial, Cunningham referred to Halprin and his co-defendants as "the Mexican, the queer, and the Jew."
In addition, two lifelong family friends testified that in the years following the trial, the judge called Halprin "Randy the Jew" and "Jew Halprin," among other slurs.
A news release from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office said it agrees this is "an important step toward Halprin being granted a new trial, ultimately, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will have to make that decision."
for more features.