“You know, I, before the robbery, I even told them, I’m not going to go in and carry a gun, and there was a little argument,” he told the jury during trial. “And so I told them I wasn’t going to pull a gun and they said, fine, just gather clothes, grab a shopping cart, and gather clothes.”

Under the law of parties – a Texas law that holds co-conspirators just as criminally liable as shooters – Halprin was sentenced to death, along with the other five surviving members of the crew. One man killed himself before they were captured in Colorado.

Initially, it was Judge Molly Francis who oversaw the trial. But once she snagged an appointment to a federal appeals court, then-Gov. Rick Perry assigned Cunningham to take over her bench.

Born and raised in a religious, Republican family near Dallas, Cunningham believed it was his “destiny” to become a judge. But, according to his childhood friend Tammy McKinney, even growing up he “did not like anyone not of his race,” an alleged bias that she said only seemed to grow over time.

By the time he hit 30, Cunningham allegedly used racial slurs regularly, McKinney wrote in a statement.

“If someone were actually African-American he would call them (n-word) and their first name,” McKinney wrote. “It was his signature way of talking about people of color.”

Two years after trial, he launched a bid for Dallas County district attorney, running as a Republican. At the time, he allegedly told campaign volunteer Amanda Tackett that he wanted to return the county to one where people didn’t have to worry about Jews and other minorities.

“My job is to prevent (n-words) from running wild again,” he allegedly said once when discussing the Texas 7 cases. One of the men he allegedly referred to as a “god**** k***” and “f***in Jew.”

After losing the 2006 race, he didn’t run for office again until 2018. Just before the Republican run-off, the Dallas Morning News published an investigation outlining Cunningham’s alleged history of bias, based on interviews with Cunningham’s friends and family.

To the paper and in a publicly posted statement, Cunningham denied ever using the n-word – though he admitted, on-camera, to the details of the living trust he’d set up.

Though Halprin was sentenced to die more than 15 years ago, his legal team only learned of Cunningham’s alleged bias through last year’s reporting in the Dallas paper. Afterward, investigators interviewed people who’d know the former judge to ask about his views toward Jewish people, findings that formed the basis of the latest appeal.

“An objective observer would conclude that Judge Cunningham could not prevent his personal prejudice against Jewish people from affecting his treatment of Mr. Halprin, whom he knew to be Jewish,” defense attorneys Tivon Schardl and Timothy Gumkowski wrote in Halprin’s latest appeal. “This Court should find that Judge Cunningham had an intolerably high risk of bias in violation of the Constitution.”

Along with the May court filing, an earlier federal claim in the case still being litigated. Even so, according to Halprin’s attorneys, prosecutors have requested an October execution date. A judge has yet to rule on that request.