"[Halprin] was convicted as a party," Assistant District Attorney Lisa Smith said. "You can get the death penalty as a party, so he didn't have to shoot the weapons to get the death penalty."

The prosecution strengthened its case by undermining the credibility of the three testifying death row inmates. Murphy admitted that he was Halprin's father-in-law. Rodriguez first told the prosecution that he did not want to come to Dallas to testify, that he didn't enjoy the process. But then Smith showed him an entry from Halprin's online diary. The entry described a meeting between Halprin and Rodriguez in which Rodriguez had told the defendant about a prior time he testified in Dallas. He raved about being able to see trees and people on the van ride north. Rodriguez then told the court that Halprin's lawyers had assured him that testifying for Halprin would result in another trip to Dallas. That has not yet proven to be the case.

Rivas, responding to questions posed by Judge Magnis, admitted to feeling responsible and guilty for Halprin being condemned to death. "They showed their true colors, who they really are," Smith said. "They're a team; they'll always be a team. Together until the end."

Last week's hearing marked the first stage in what is typically a prolonged post-conviction process in capital cases. The court continued the hearing without setting a new date in order to give lawyers an opportunity to further investigate the case and present testimony.

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