By Brian Corder Journalism Guild Writer
A Jewish Death Row prisoner’s execution won a reprieve after allegations that the trial judge was anti-Semitic and frequently used racial slurs.
The reprieve came six days before the scheduled execution of Randy Halprin, The Associated Press reported. Halprin was a member of the “Texas 7,” a group that escaped from a South Texas prison in 2000.
The “Texas 7” commit- ted numerous robberies; one resulted in the death of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins, who was shot 11 times. As officers closed in, one of the seven killed himself just before the six-week man- hunt ended in Colorado. The remaining six, including Halprin, were convicted of kill- ing Hawkins and sentenced to death.
Halprin claims his trial judge, Vickers Cunningham, used racial slurs and anti- Semitic language to refer to Halprin and the other “Texas 7” prisoners.
He was scheduled to receive a lethal injection on Oct. 10,2019. However, The Texas Court of Appeals granted a stay of execution on Oct. 4, 2019. The appellant court vacated the decision and remanded Halprin’s case back to the Dallas County court that convicted him, with instructions to review his claim of the trial judges’ biased against Halprin for being Jewish.
He is seeking a new trial.
One of Halprin’s attorneys, Tivon Schardl, said in a statement, “Today’s deci- sion to stay Randy Halprin’s scheduled execution is a signal that bigotry and bias are unacceptable in the criminal justice system.”
As it relates to California, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reports there are 2,721 people on Death Row as of October 2018. By halting the Death Penalty in California, Gov. Galvin Newsom’s moratorium affected more than a quarter of the country’s Death Row prisoners. California’s Death Row population is 737 prisoners.
As of May 2019, the United States had executed 1,476 since 1976, according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, 162 Death Row prisoners have been exonerated.