Major Jewish Group Praises Stay of Execution for Jewish Texas Death Row Inmate Sentenced by Antisemitic Judge
A leading Jewish group praised on Sunday a Texas appeals court’s decision to stay the execution of a Jewish death row inmate following allegations that the sentencing judge was an antisemite and a racist.
“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 the American Jewish Committee’s General Counsel Marc Stern.
“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,” he added.
Randy Halprin was sentenced to death for the murder of Irving, Texas police officer Aubrey Hawkins in 2000 by what has come to be called the “Texas Seven,” a group of prison escapees, including Halprin, who killed the policeman during an attempted robbery of a sporting goods store.
Halprin has maintained he did not personally kill Hawkins, but as an accessory was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death in 2003.
Controversy erupted, however, regarding the sentencing judge, Vickers “Vic” Cunningham, who was revealed to have made antisemitic statements about Halprin and harbored racist beliefs.
According to a report by The Dallas Morning News, Cunningham’s prejudices included a distaste for all non-Christians and a deep-seated aversion to non-white minorities.
Cunningham allegedly referred to Halprin as “that [expletive] Jew” during the trial. He also was found to have set up a trust fund for his children that they could only access if they married white Christians.
Tammy McKinney, a friend of Cunningham’s, said he “did not like anyone not of his race, religion or creed, and he was very vocal about his disapproval.”
She added that she had heard Cunningham say, “Jews needed to be shut down because they controlled all the money.”
Halprin’s attorneys stated in June, “Before, during, and after Randy Halprin’s trial, Judge Cunningham harbored deep-seated animus towards and prejudices about non-white, non-Christian people.”
“He expressed these views frequently in private and they informed his thinking about his public service in the law,” they added.
Last month, a group of 100 Jewish attorneys and faith leaders issued a statement supporting Halprin’s appeal.
Halprin was serving a 30-year sentence for brutally beating a young child when he and six other prisoners escaped, eventually committing the robbery that resulted in the death of Officer Hawkins.
Hawkins was shot 11 times and run over with a car. His family declined to comment to The Dallas Morning News on the stay of execution. Cunningham did the same.
The rest of the Texas Seven have already been executed except one who committed suicide and another who is scheduled to be executed on November 13.