Jan-Feb 2020 - Randy Halprin

Randy Halprin
 "We tend to see a person in the moment, not as the journey they travelled to get here."  Kat Lehmann

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January 16th, 2020

Another wet and humid day...I went outside earlier and thought,

“Man, it's crazy to be outside in shorts and a tank top in the middle of January!”

Yesterday I was moved to another cell and that was an adventure in itself...They told me I was moving and when I asked where to, the guard said,  

“I don't know...Off the pod somewhere.”

I packed everything up and waited and waited until he came back and said,  

“Man, I'm sorry...They said you're not moving until the morning.”

I had to unpack my hygiene stuff and bed sheets, and keep everything else packed for the morning time. I crashed out and got up the next morning a little after 5am. When 1st shift came on I asked about moving and the guard said he didn't know anything about it. I asked if he'd find out and he said he would. But I waited all day long until the afternoon just to find out that I was only moving to the next section over – something that could've been done in five minutes the night before! I was tired and frustrated, but quickly moved and scrubbed the cell down because it was quite filthy. My friend David used to say,  

“I think they move you to these cells so that you can do all the cleaning.”  

I think he's right!

My only complaint is that I'm wedged between two guys that stay up all night long and make a ton of noise. I didn't sleep well at all and just made a comment to one of them,  

“I guess I have to change my sleep schedule around y'all...”

So, recently I've been thinking a lot about something...Since my stay in October (which I am continually grateful for) something has been bothering me. It's one of the reasons why I wrote a Statement recently for my website concerning the facts of my case, and the Law of Parties not being the primary focus at this stage.  

I feel uncomfortable with my case being co-opted as part of any other agenda, and it makes me feel kind of used. I had this conversation recently with another guy back here who also received a stay last year, and he says it's happened to him as well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with fighting for people with everything you have; but when I'm told my image is appearing in a poster, or my name or my writings are being used or whatever, it doesn't sit well with me because the danger is that these things could end up alongside facts or images that aren't strictly correct. Right now, my case is at a very important stage, and all I want is to just wait.   

I was discussing with a friend recently about NO two cases ever being the same, and even in Law Of Parties cases, they are all different. My case right now is very different even from my co-defendants. It's also very important to know and to be able to distinguish between the two Texas Criminal Codes used in each indictment – they are VERY different! One of the codes says you are equally as guilty just for being there, and the other says you were directly involved in the capacity of 'party to the crime'.  [Note from the Webmaster: Please go to our 'Law Of Parties' section where you will find the Texas Penal Code which will help you to distinguish between the two codes. Thank you]

There are different aspects, angles, and nuances in every case; and even if two cases seem identical, they could be ruled on very differently. My case as it stands now, is focused on a biased judge who harbored anti-Semitic resentment towards me, because I am Jewish, and therefore denied me the right to a fair and unbiased trial.  

So, to put my image with something that doesn't match what my case is about, makes me uncomfortable. That being said, Catherine and I don't like pointing things out to anyone, but the need to ensure that my case (and this is the same for everyone back here) is not misrepresented, is of paramount importance.  

I understand and respect those who fight for someone on death row, but I've always felt it important that each friend, pen pal, or advocate, actually know the case they are speaking out about. It's very important to research and review as much as possible, including recent filings. That way, when you post something about a person being wronged by the court, or wrongfully convicted, or innocent, and you are asked,  

“Explain their case to me...Why should I support this person?”  

You can speak with confidence.

A blanket statement along the lines of,  

“Well I don't believe in the death penalty...We fight for all the same,” isn't going to convince a person to support you in your efforts, especially if they want to hear a compelling argument. In an ideal world we would only ever have to say,  

“We fight for everyone the same,” but we're not in an ideal world or situation here...

I've said this time and time again, and anyone who's been reading my journals over the years will know how strongly I feel about this...I've never wanted anyone to blindly support me. I've never wanted anyone to come to my aid purely on the basis of me saying I'm 'innocent' or 'not a killer'. The people I have in my life all know this and have done their research thoroughly. Catherine has done a wonderful job in outlining and presenting my case on my website; she knows my case inside out, and speaks regularly to my attorneys. I know that everything she posts will be accurate, and done correctly, and those who help her will follow her lead.  

I'm good friends with many guys back here, and I want everyone to live...I understand the desire to be supported and to have outside support, but it's also important to have that trust and to not just take our word for it...Do the research. Believe me, the haters and people who want to see us all executed will try to counter whatever you post, and it doesn't help someone's case if you scream,  

“He's innocent!”  

And then it comes to light that there's a confession, or a weapon with a fingerprint, or whatever the case may be.  

Please...do your homework...Your homework is your armor against even the strongest of voices who challenge you. My friends have done their homework, and I trust them with  my life. They are my advocates, and I couldn't be more grateful to them.  

There will always be those who have their own agenda...Those who don't agree with the tactics or acknowledge the aspects and nuances of my case...And even some who feel my case should be fought exactly the same way as someone else's. But my attorneys know best, and they are fighting for my life on the basis of the issues that could actually save me - that's what matters.

I also understand it may upset some people who feel my loved ones should fight for me in a different way, or with a different agenda, and it's not my wish to upset or offend anyone. What I will say is that each death row inmate is an individual, and their loved ones, families, and friends, should be respected when they are doing things the way they've been directed by their attorneys.   

As I said, in a perfect world things would be different. Everyone could fight for everyone in exactly the same way, and with the same amount of time and energy. Sadly, this world is far from perfect and a winning issue for one person, is not going to be a winning issue for all. As sad as that is, there is still always something to fight with for everyone. This is what could make a real difference to someone's case. Educating and informing ourselves are the best tools we have in this fight.

Anyway, that's what's been on my mind lately...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.  


January 20th, 2020

Martin Luther King Day...We had a very good breakfast (cinnamon rolls) and fried chicken for lunch. The lunch came right on time because I went outside today, and whilst the first part of the morning was freezing, as the sun rose higher in the sky, it warmed up and so we played some basketball – I won 12-3! It was a nice run and good exercise which I really needed.  

So, over the weekend I did my best to keep busy, but my neighbour is getting on my last nerve...He's really loud and annoying, and stays up all night. He also has this weird thing where he is always yelling out everything that happens, much like a sports commentator. No one is paying any attention to him and we can't understand everything he says because he doesn't have any teeth. Every so often you'll hear someone down the walkway yell out,  

“Put your damn teeth in your mouth! We can't understand a single word you're saying!”  

He's not a bad dude, just really annoying, and I value the sleep I can get in this place.  

I've been thinking about the relationship I'm in and we've just celebrated two years together recently, yet it still feels as fresh and exciting as it did when we first set out on our journey together. We write to each other every single day, and we always have lots to talk about.  

I've been in relationships before and I've loved before, but this is completely different...I think it's because we are rooted in a strong and mutual respect for one another's creative talent and intelligence, her strong sense of family and friendships, and good 'old fashioned' values. We are both very emotionally expressive and into the romantic stuff, but more than anything, we're close friends who tease one another, laugh together, and exchange and develop creative ideas. I know that no matter what, we will always remain close, and that gives me a certain freedom in my love for her. We're not clingy, and we both express ourselves independently and have a genuine love.  

But what I've been thinking about today is that relationships with death row inmates are not always taken seriously, and there will always be those who want to criticise and offer their opinion. We are all different back here, and however anyone 'does' their relationship is not mine or anyone else's concern, and all relationships should be respected. Criticism doesn't matter to me because Taffy is awesome! She looks out for my best interests and I look out for hers, and we are loyal to one another. I often tell her to ignore a lot of silly stuff that goes on, take time out, breathe, and take care of herself over anything else.  

I guess I can sum it all up as being amazed by 'Us', and after many toxic and failed relationships, I wondered if I'd ever find the 'right' person...I looked and looked and sadly, in looking, I broke some hearts because even when I was content with something, I wasn't happy...I felt empty...I felt awful for hurting people and it was never done with any intention of deceit or gain, but I just didn't know what I wanted at the time. Then, it hit me and I knew it immediately. I was a little overwhelmed by all of it, as she was, but we were both smitten. I just knew immediately that this is what I wanted, and I still want it just as much today as I did two years ago, and I'm still smitten! I often tease her and call her a voodoo priestess for casting spells on me, and she calls me a cheeky wizard (ha ha).

So, going into the next year with her, I'm just so grateful to have her friendship, love, support, and encouragement...To just have 'her'.

Here's to a great week!

Courage. Strength, Hope and Faith.


January 21st, 2020

My section has a recreation 'off day' today, so I slept in until 7am, then got up and started my day. We had really lazy guards so I expected it to be a long one...

I did some laundry, cleaned my cell, and around 11am two guards showed up to tell me I had a legal visit. It was a bit of a surprise, but I've been anxious for news/updates...I was told that they filed a response to the Supreme Court on a related issue – one which won't have much of an effect on the trial court issues, should the Supreme Court deny it. Then I was told about some other shady stuff that was going on, but my attorneys are not concerned because the facts are on my side.  

We both feel confident, and there is still some way to go before things even begin to start moving and shaking...I left the visit feeling very positive.   

As I was waiting to return to my cell, I had a chat with another guy I was on death watch with, Abel Ochoa. He has a date in 16 days times, but is at peace and still has hope. I told him that anything can happen and to hang onto that hope. I've known Abel since 2003 when he was on the same floor as me during my trial in Dallas County, and he's a good man. I hope and pray that things work out for him, and he is spared.  

I waited for over an hour and a half to get back to  my cell, and it was freezing when I returned! The air/heat has been acting up lately, but it's strange that it's been out in the day time, but comes back on at night.  

Apart from that, there's nothing else to report today...

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


February 6th, 2020

My day started off with going outside for recreation. It was super cold but the fresh air and cold breeze was invigorating, and I needed it. I'd not been to recreation since last Friday (my choice) so I chose to just get away from some people and the negativity that has taken over on the section where I live.

I knew I was going to have a legal visit today and I hoped that I was going to get a shower, but I ended up leaving before I could get the shower! It was a very good legal visit though, and I enjoyed the time I spent with the two people who visited from my team. I feel that sometimes I can't properly express how fortunate and grateful I am for the people I have fighting so hard for me...

When I was out at visitation, Abel Ochoa was having his 'last visits' before his execution. At about noon they took him out and I had a chance to say 'goodbye' to him (although, at the time of writing this I'm still praying he will get a stay!). I've known Abel since 2003 when he and I were awaiting our respective trials. We lived on the same floor of Dallas County Jail, but because of the high security that surrounded my case, I was secluded and partitions were placed around my cell so I could not see anything outside of the cell. I could only hear peoples' voices. I began talking to a guy with a heavy Texan accent and he referred to himself as “Woody,” and I just assumed he was a white guy. He was really nice and had a laugh that was so contagious, and he always tried to lift everyone's spirits, and often quoted the bible.

As my trial date drew nearer, I had a series of pre-trial hearings. The guards would surround me, shackle me up, and escort me to court. One afternoon I was leaving court and passed a holding cell. There was a Latino man in an orange jump suit and he hit the glass giving me a 'thumbs up' and a huge smile. I thought to myself,

“Who is this guy?”

He yelled to me through the glass,

“I'm Woody!”

I was confused...Woody was white, I thought.

I was escorted back to my cell, and soon he got back to his cell, and yelled over to me,

“That was me, Randy!”

“You're Mexican? You sound like a redneck!” I hollered back...And we both laughed and made small talk.

We were both sent to death row relatively closely, and Abel has been the same person he's always been. He often teased me over the years because there was a female Latino guard who often flirted with me as I waited for my trial. Abel would say,

“How's Juanita?” and laugh!

He has always tried to lift the spirits of the death row guys, and I don't know a single person back here who didn't have an affection for Abel. When we were both on death watch together, he'd often say,

“It's not over! Don't lose hope!”

He told me the same thing on the day I received my stay...

“Never lose hope.”

It's 2pm as I write this and I'm still holding onto hope for Abel...I don't want to write a bad ending to this journal...I really don't. I don't want to miss him, I want him still here...The world will be a better place with his presence!

It's much later now and there was some confusion about Abel's case on the Execution Watch program...They announced he received a stay...Then, suddenly, they said he hadn't received a stay.

Abel is being executed as I write this...The world has lost a bright soul. Judge him, condemn him, but the fact remains that for over 16 years I knew him to be one of the kindest people here on this earth. He walked and breathed in his faith...He loved his faith.

Rest in peace, friend...I will miss you.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


Dedicated to Abel Ochoa, and all who knew and loved him.

February 13th, 2020

It's been a weird few days after Abel's execution; the wind seems to have been knocked out of many people back here. The 'Execution Watch' program on KPFT initially announced that he had received a stay...But they had misinterpreted a court opinion, and a loud cheer erupted across B-Pod when the announcement was made. Then, after talking to people in Huntsville who were holding a vigil/protest, we knew that the execution was moving forward. There was much confusion, and then we heard an official say,  

“Yes, he is being executed, and his appeals have been denied.”

For the next few days there was an unusual silence on the Pod, but on Monday the silence was broken by madness, chaos, arguing, and negativity. I had another legal visit on Monday, so fortunately I was away from most of it. I feel that much of the negativity and arguing is due to the stress we all feel back here with the new mail room and other policies. People who have had support for years are going to lose that support on March 1st. On top of that, the mail itself is in complete and utter disarray - mail is going missing, printed Jpay emails are not being delivered, and books are already being denied if they arrive by courier. On top of all that we are about to go through another administration change so we have to adjust to whatever new rules/policies they wish to implement as well. I've never witnessed such disorganization and upheaval in all the time I've been here...It's difficult to feel settled in any way.

I encourage everyone who writes to someone back here to read the new rules and follow them exactly. On March 1st, the mail room will begin to deny mail that doesn't meet the new requirements.

And now, I would like to clear something up for those who don't understand where I'm coming from in my journal entry of January 16th...I've been told by friends that I've been 'misinterpreted' by some, so let's be clear: We should fight against the death penalty 100% regardless of the crime – that is my belief, and has always been my belief. However, it's also important to acknowledge the following two things.

(1) I wish to be private for a number of reasons, and mostly because I want the facts of my case to remain 100% accurate in the public domain. My attorneys, Taffy, and my friends all understand the importance of this, and that's why I tell people that if they read something online that doesn't come from the official 'Friends of Randy Halprin', then it cannot be relied upon to be accurate. Whilst my case is going through the courts, I don't feel comfortable with me or my case being 'co-opted' for any other agenda, or being used for anyone else's personal agenda on social media. That's my personal choice as an individual.

(2) Back here we are all grateful for and respect those who fight against the death penalty...However, when facts are mentioned about anyone's individual case, regardless of who they are or their crime, it's important to be 100% accurate in what you are saying on social media. Being passionate about the fight is admirable, but no two cases are the same, and maintaining credibility is vital. Fighting against the death penalty, and publicly posting about an individual's case, are two very different things.

One other thing...I've been told about something so wildly inaccurate appearing on Facebook about me being visited by Ms Kim Kardashian!! This is NOT true. Ms Kardashian was here to visit another inmate. This is why I prefer people to look here on my website, and/or check the Friends of Randy Halprin Twitter account, where everything posted is true and accurate information.

Finally...Personally, I do not like Facebook whatsoever, and would prefer NOT to have anything posted there about me or my case, unless it's something done via my attorneys. My friends and those close to me do not post about me on Facebook because they know and respect how I feel about that particular platform. As a result of this latest inaccurate information, I would rather nothing was posted or shared on Facebook about me or any of my work or journals, unless authorized by the Friends of Randy Halprin.

Hopefully, this should clear everything up...

On a more positive note, we learned that another guy will soon be getting off death row for a new punishment trial. Hopefully, he won't have to come back.

Courage. Strength. Hope and Faith.


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