Monday, January 9, 2017

Kathryn Casey's Letter to Kim Ogg

In case you missed it, on Friday, the Houston Chronicle ran an open letter from True Crime writer, Kathryn Casey, to Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg.  Casey, author of the book Shattered which profiled the Temple Case, reached out expressing her concerns with the D.A.'s Office refusal to recuse itself from the case.

The article is worth a read for a couple of reasons.  First, it contains the entirety of Casey's letter, in which she logically rebuts the allusions that Team Temple has been making about having "proof" that the time frame involved with the case exonerates Temple.  Second, it clearly articulates why there is such a tremendous appearance of impropriety if Ogg doesn't recuse the Office.

Casey, who attended the trial, has a much better grasp of the details of the case than I do and she also can't be accused of having any personal stake in the outcome.  She is writing based on logic.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Ogg is listening to anyone other than Team Temple when it comes to how to handle the case.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is a very well written letter and worth the read. Kim should be paying attention to this letter and the public desire for another trial.

Anonymous said...

The public desire for another trial? Yep...that is what should drive this decision. Note the sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

Ogg won the DAs office based on her desire to release a serial rapist. What makes anyone think she wants to keep a convicted murderer in prison?

Anonymous said...

Can someone copy or paraphrase the letter over here? I cannot see it

Anonymous said...

January 6, 2017

Dear Ms. Ogg

I am writing to you today out of deep concern for what is happening in the David Temple case. I am a Houston-based journalist and the author of fourteen books. One of my books, SHATTERED, is on this case. Compiling my research, I not only sat in the courtroom throughout the trial but interviewed many of those involved.

As you know, this is a particularly horrific murder. Belinda Temple, a beloved Katy High School teacher, was eight-months pregnant with a baby girl at the time of her killing. On January 11, 1999, someone put a 12-gauge shotgun up to the back of her head and pulled the trigger. Nearly eight years later, her husband, David, was convicted of the crime. This past November, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the verdict and ordered a new trial. At this time, Mr. Temple is out of prison and awaiting a retrial.

Ms Ogg, I have no problem with the CCA’s ruling on the Temple case. If David Temple didn’t get a fair trial, he absolutely deserves one. On the other hand, the victims, Belinda Temple and her unborn child, Erin, and the people of Harris County deserve a fair handling of the case. I’ve read that David’s defense team is pushing to have David declared an innocent man without a new trial. I find this troubling for multiple reasons:

• First: the appeal’s courts have repeatedly found against the defense team’s claims of “actual innocence” in David’s appeals. They never exonerated him.

• The courts have ruled that there was legally sufficient evidence to convict David.

• The courts haven’t cited any substantial new evidence in the case that clears David.

• None of the evidence used in David Temple’s murder trial has been ruled inadmissible, which means all the evidence jurors considered in his murder trial – that used to convict him - remains available to prosecutors for use in a new trial.

• In fact, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ decision was very limited. It decreed that David deserved a new trial principally because his defense team wasn’t given information early enough to use it to its best advantage during his trial.

Obviously, this is an important matter. With his freedom on the line, David Temple deserved every break the law afforded him. But the ruling awarded a new trial, not that he be declared innocent.

Another reason I’m reaching out to you is that I find it disheartening when evidence becomes muddled, as it appears it has in this case, where much of what has been claimed to “prove” David Temple’s innocence doesn’t match the trial record or evidence.

For instance, I have heard some associated with the defense suggest that there is no evidence David ever owned a 12-gauge shotgun. In fact, a friend of David’s younger brother testified at the trial that David owned a 12-gauge. On the stand, Clint Stockdick, who hunted with the Temple brothers, went so far as to describe the make of the shotgun. David’s 12-gauge shotgun was never produced for testing, and he has consistently denied ever owning one.

It has been said that David Temple didn’t have anything in the house that suggested he still owned a shotgun at the time of Belinda’s murder. But at his trial, multiple witnesses testified to seeing shotgun shells in his garage.

Most troubling, there’s been much said about a 3:30 PM cell phone call Belinda made to David on the afternoon of her murder. The location the call was made from is important because it would indicate where Belinda was at that time. That could impact the timeline of how the events unfolded that day.

Anonymous said...

(PART TWO)

In their appeal, Temple’s defense attorneys pointed to two tape-recorded interviews that they said indicated the call was made from the Katy High School campus. If that were true, it would place Belinda Temple on the school campus at 3:30, and that would push back the timeline. One of David’s attorneys has said that this particular evidence proves Temple’s innocence.

When I heard this, I felt compelled to investigate the claims. If there is any evidence suggesting David couldn’t have murdered Belinda, I want to do what I can to help. I would never want an innocent man to serve time in prison. This evidence didn’t fit what I learned while researching the book, but I wanted to give it a fair assessment.

So, I listened to the two tape recorded interviews.

The first one was of a woman named Courtney Ferguson. Like Kevin Patrick Yeary, a justice on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals who wrote in an opinion that he listened to the tape, I heard nothing in Ferguson’s statement about Belinda making a phone call from the Katy High School Campus at 3:30 that afternoon.

The second interview cited was with Margaret Christen, an assistant principal. She testified at the trial and didn’t say anything about that 3:30 call. In her tape-recorded interview with detectives, however, Christen did make an ambiguous statement about a phone call. So I followed up, found Christen and interviewed her. On the phone, Margaret Christen denied knowing anything about the 3:30 phone call. She said the phone call she referred to in her taped interview was the one she testified to at trial, one Belinda made earlier that day.

So prime evidence of an alternate timeline the defense points to as proof of David Temple’s innocence doesn’t appear to hold true.

In Thursday’s (January 5, 2017) Houston Chronicle, David’s lead appeal attorney, Stan Schneider, didn’t call for an investigation into any other suspects in Belinda’s murder. Instead he said: “Unfortunately, the way this prosecution went down, I don’t think anyone could ever really be prosecuted.” As far as I know, David Temple also hasn’t publicly asked police to look for the murderer who put a shotgun to the back of his heavily pregnant wife’s head and pulled the trigger.

So that’s it. Apparently without any evidence confirming his innocence - remember the appeals courts didn’t cite anything “particularly momentous” – David Temple’s defense team wants him declared innocent. And Belinda and her unborn daughter, Erin, are to be forgotten.

Anonymous said...

(PART THREE)

Complicating this situation further, Ms. Ogg, questions are being raised about the ability of your office to be impartial in this case. Some wonder if too many in your office have ties to the Temple defense for there to be confidence in a decision.

For instance, two of your recently hired staffers, chief of intake, John Denholm, and your top investigator, Steve Clappart, have given interviews to the press backing Temple. Both worked to have him freed. Joanne Musick, who oversees your sex crimes unit, headed the county’s criminal lawyer’s association when it ran a blog declaring David Temple an innocent man. The head of your grand jury unit, Jim Leitner, also pushed to get David Temple out of prison. You personally included David Temple’s trial attorney, Dick DeGuerin, in the list of those you thanked on the day you were sworn in.

Unfortunately under these circumstances, however your office handles this case, questions will linger. Whatever is decided, if the decisions are made by you or others in your office, they’ll fall under suspicion of possible bias and improprieties. The result either way is that this case will cast a long shadow over your nascent administration. This should be a particularly uncomfortable situation for a district attorney who ran on a platform of transparency.

The good news is that there’s an easy solution: the David Temple case needs a fresh set of eyes. It shouldn’t be decided by people linked to his defense team or who have already expressed viewpoints on his guilt or innocence, but by impartial, uninvolved prosecutors. For that reason, I urge you to turn the David Temple case over to the Texas State Attorney General’s office. There it can be reviewed and decisions made without any appearance of conflicts of interest. Through the AG’s office, a decision can be made regarding a second trial, one in which twelve new jurors will have the opportunity to assess the evidence and rule on David Temple’s innocence or guilt.

Ms. Ogg, take the high road. Walk away from this case. It can’t help your new administration, only harm it. There is intense public interest in this case, and the people of Harris County need to know it is being handled based solely on the evidence.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Casey

Anonymous said...

(PART THREE)

Complicating this situation further, Ms. Ogg, questions are being raised about the ability of your office to be impartial in this case. Some wonder if too many in your office have ties to the Temple defense for there to be confidence in a decision.

For instance, two of your recently hired staffers, chief of intake, John Denholm, and your top investigator, Steve Clappart, have given interviews to the press backing Temple. Both worked to have him freed. Joanne Musick, who oversees your sex crimes unit, headed the county’s criminal lawyer’s association when it ran a blog declaring David Temple an innocent man. The head of your grand jury unit, Jim Leitner, also pushed to get David Temple out of prison. You personally included David Temple’s trial attorney, Dick DeGuerin, in the list of those you thanked on the day you were sworn in.

Unfortunately under these circumstances, however your office handles this case, questions will linger. Whatever is decided, if the decisions are made by you or others in your office, they’ll fall under suspicion of possible bias and improprieties. The result either way is that this case will cast a long shadow over your nascent administration. This should be a particularly uncomfortable situation for a district attorney who ran on a platform of transparency.

The good news is that there’s an easy solution: the David Temple case needs a fresh set of eyes. It shouldn’t be decided by people linked to his defense team or who have already expressed viewpoints on his guilt or innocence, but by impartial, uninvolved prosecutors. For that reason, I urge you to turn the David Temple case over to the Texas State Attorney General’s office. There it can be reviewed and decisions made without any appearance of conflicts of interest. Through the AG’s office, a decision can be made regarding a second trial, one in which twelve new jurors will have the opportunity to assess the evidence and rule on David Temple’s innocence or guilt.

Ms. Ogg, take the high road. Walk away from this case. It can’t help your new administration, only harm it. There is intense public interest in this case, and the people of Harris County need to know it is being handled based solely on the evidence.

Sincerely,

Kathryn Casey

Anonymous said...

Even OJ vowed to catch the real killers. The only vow we've heard from Temple is to pay back those who lied and cheated.

But sadly, I have more respect for Temple than Clappart. Lying POS.

Anonymous said...

You know, it strikes me that this whole "review" process on the Temple case is nothing more than a delay tactic in the hope that the media and public attention will die down and the case can be quietly swept under the rug. With all the apparent conflicts of interest, there's no reason for Ogg to be involved in any decision regarding a retrial or for there to be any delay in appointing a DA pro tem. I honestly don't know how she gets around the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (for attorneys) regarding successive government and private employment. That bar rule works both ways. And given that lawyers are also responsible under the rules for the ethical behavior of non-lawyer subordinates, the fact that there are members of "Team Temple" now on the DA staff should be plenty of justification for recusal. With all the terminations of veteran prosecutors, and now the slow walking of the decision on the Temple case, it's becoming manifestly clear that Ogg sold her soul to the Devil (George Soros) and the Harris County criminal defense bar. With the ink barely dry on her oath of office, the paybacks have already begun. As bad as I thought the Lykos administration was in regard to inexplicable administrative decisions, it sure looks like Ogg is going to be much, much worse. It's going to be a long four years in Harris County for victims I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Would everyone go back to work and give Vivian her case summaries now please!

Anonymous said...

So now there is an "Ethics Czar", who also laid hands on the Temple case. That's right folks. As Judge of the 178th, David Mendoza recused himself on the writ filed by Schneider and company. Will Mendoza advise Ogg to step aside or will he abdicate his new found responsibility citing a prior conflict? If he does recommend recusal, will Ogg listen to her own advisor?

Anonymous said...

David Temple's trial ended in Nov 2007. Roger Bridgwater was appointed Judge of the 178th in Aug 2007. For some reason, Doug Shaver was assigned by Olen Underwood to preside over the trial. David Mendoza was elected Judge of the 178th in Nov 2008 and took the bench in Jan 2009. He had nothing to do with the trial. Although he wasn't required to state a reason why, it's very curious as to why he recused himself.
Fair to say Bridgwater and Mendoza "ducked" the Temple case. Feel free to draw your own conclusion as to why

David Singer said...

Is Ms. Casey's and your argument Murry that when a prosecutor has a friendship with a defense lawyer they should recuse themselves from a case? Because that happens everyday at the courthouse. Did you never dismiss a case handled by a defense lawyer who was your friend when you were a ADA? I fail to see how this issue makes Kim unqualified to review and evaluate the Temple case. In fact, she was elected to make this tough call. She should be given credit for wanting to personally review the file rather than putting together some panel to deflect criticism for whatever decision is made down the road. I don't know what the evidence is in any meaningful detail and don't know what decision should or will be made. I think it's really unfair to prejudge that decision and assume it will be based anything other than Kim's honest opinion of the evidence. Stan Schneider press conferences don't mean anything to any DA handling one of his cases.

And anyone posting anonymous on this blog to takes shots at anyone is a chickenshit coward. If you can't put your name to your opinion, your should keep your mouth shut.

Murray Newman said...

No, David, my argument is that if she dismisses the case when at least one of her upper echelon staff members was an attorney on the case, there is an appearance of impropriety. And as you seem to have caught onto, she isn't even pretending she is going to do anything other than dismiss it.

And don't you come on my blog and tell any of my commenters not to comment. That's not your place and that's not your business. Ogg (and Lykos before her) made it more than clear that people in her administration could be fired for speaking their minds, 1st Amendment be damned. When I got fired, I was told personally by Ken Magidson that it was for what I wrote on the blog.

They are welcome here by me and you have no say in that matter.

Anonymous said...

Although I cannot tell you for a fact (nor can anyone else but him), I believe Temple is guilty of murdering his wife and unborn child and should be in prison. However, the appeals court has decided that to throw out the conviction and now for him to return to prison, there must be a retrial (because there is no way he is going to agree to a plea) and another conviction.
The flip side of that is the other people whose lives have been turned upside down by him and his defense team. Specifically, those teenagers at whom they like to point the finger. Those guys are grown, both married with kids of their own, and have never been convicted of any crimes. If there is a retrial, the defense will try to point the finger specifically at the two of them as if they murdered a pregnant woman for no reason and have gotten away with it all this time. While one of them lives in another state, the other lives right there in Katy. Is it really fair to them to go through all this again because of a few dumb decisions they made as teens? No, it isn't but then we all have already seen that David and Team Temple do not care about anything or anyone in the way of getting what they want.

Anonymous said...

“The quality of justice in our county depends in large part on the quality of our judges.” – David Singer 2016 Texas 177th District Court candidate

Candidates who don’t respect the 1st Amendment don’t make quality judges.

Looks like the voters voted correctly.

Robert Johnson - 51.69% WINNER
David Singer - 48.31% LOSER

TopGun

Anonymous said...

Mr. Singer, if you bothered at all to read any of Murray's fine pieces on the Temple case, you wouldn't have asked any of those questions. Instead, you make lame attacks on those of us that are subject to retaliation not just by the sitting DA who has proven she'll make knee jerk reactions based on hearsay, but by others in the local community who support Ms. Ogg or otherwise think employees must march lockstep as a condition of employment. That you don't understand any of that does support @4:41's assertion that voters are better off without your services as a judge.

@2:39, while you are correct in reminding the world how sleazy Team Temple have proven to be, dropping the case solely because of their continued antics with regard to their scapegoats would only encourage more of the sleaze community to engage in such false accusations in the future. There are too many fine legal minds that do not care to be further lumped in with their sort to dismiss as a matter of convenience. If Ms. Ogg does the right thing and hand the case off to a competent special prosecutor who then convinces a second jury of Temple's clear guilt in the slaying of his former wife and unborn child, the scapegoats will be better off than allowing the passage of time to let the killer and his team malign them further. If she dismisses the case, many will work that much harder to find a suitable replacement for her tarnished reign in the next election, even that ambulance chaser that regularly runs for the office would be preferable.

@7:27, four years will go by quickly and the Temple case will be the albatross that sinks her if she dismisses it outright. The case and surrounding controversy are not going away so long as the victim's parents are alive or Andy Kahan draws breath. People get away with murder all the time but rarely do they truly escape the consequences of their actions, the killer will be forever marked as such by the vast majority of those familiar with the case.

Anonymous said...

Anon @6:15 just curious, what ambulance chaser are you referring to? I am racking my brain here

Anonymous said...

Lloyd?

David Singer said...

Ok, Murray,your right, people have a right to comment anonymously. And I have a right to call it chickenshit. Just my opinion. As for the conflict issue, who from the Temple defense team is a lawyer working on the case now? Because I agree, that would be a conflict. And I have no idea what Kim will do with the case.

Murray Newman said...

David,
John Denholm worked on the case on behalf of Dick DeGuerin. He looped in Leitner and Clappart, as well, although both were still working at the D.A.'s Office at the time. Clappart also seemed to continue working with Temple's defense team after he left the office, and appeared with Denholm and the rest of the Temple defense team at the press conference.

Anonymous said...

I am sickened by the thought that this DA will not hand this case over to a special prosecutor. There is way too much influence from Team Temple's defense team now holding places in this administration.