Sunday, August 11, 2019

Temple Trial Takeaways

As you doubtlessly know by now, the punishment phase of The State of Texas vs. David Temple ended in a mistrial on Friday after jurors failed to reach an agreement on an appropriate punishment for the man they easily convicted of murder.

I've heard from multiple credible sources that the split between the jurors was 10-2, with ten of the jurors demanding Life in prison for the man they convicted of killing his 8-month-pregnant wife, Belinda, by placing a shotgun to the back of her head and pulling the trigger.  The remaining two jurors were holding out for something far less and neither side seemed willing to budge from their position despite almost two days of deliberations.

A jury that convicts but then deadlocks over punishment is not unheard of, but it is fairly uncommon.  Since Temple was convicted of a 1999 murder, the law of 1999 applies to the case.  Back then a person could receive probation for murder, so Temple could technically receive it, as well.  Due to this, there is apparently an argument to be made that Temple could be placed on bond while awaiting his punishment.

If 178th District Court Judge Kelli Johnson elects to give Temple a bond, she will doubtlessly consider the brutality of the case, how many jurors wanted Life for Temple, and the fact that when released from jail in 2016, Temple vowed "for the people that lied and cheated who put me there to be held accountable."  Texas Attorney General Prosecutors Lisa Tanner and Bill Turner will likely point out that these combined factors make Temple a high flight risk with a revenge agenda who has nothing to lose.

Although the hung jury on punishment prevented bringing the 20-year saga of David Temple to a complete close, the fact that he was convicted again will more than suffice for the time being.

It has been a long and winding road that gave David Temple a second chance at getting away with murder, one that most murderers don't get.

Temple was originally convicted and sentenced to Life in 2007 in a trial that pitted Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler against prominent defense attorney Dick DeGuerin.  Despite the fact that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the case, DeGuerin lobbied the District Attorney's Office under then-D.A. (and Siegler's political rival) Pat Lykos to perform an off-the-books investigation into an alternate suspect.

In July of 2012, Pat Lykos was a "lame duck" D.A., having lost her bid for re-election to Mike Anderson in the Republican Primary.  DeGuerin asked then-1st Assistant Jim Leitner to "review" the Temple case before the Lykos Circus left town at the end of December.  Inexplicably, Leitner complied, as I detailed in this post.

Leitner had been informed that newly-minted defense attorney and former Harris County Homicide Lieutenant John Denholm had been sucking up to working for DeGuerin on developing an "alternate suspect" to the murder of Belinda Temple.  Despite the fact that the Court of Criminal Appeals had recently affirmed Temple's conviction, Leitner was more than happy to do DeGuerin's bidding and assigned Denholm's buddy (and current HCDA investigator) Steve Clappart to work on the case.

By September 2012, the dream team of Clappart and Denholm had drafted a Capital Murder warrant for the arrest of a "suspect" named Cody Ray Ellis based on evidence so absurd that I won't even address it in this post.  You can check out the legal document that these two nimwits tried to get signed by clicking here.   (NOTE:  Don't forget to scroll down to the transcript where Leitner testified that he would have signed that warrant.)

Here's a fun fact, in case you didn't pick up on it already:  During the retrial, Stan Schneider didn't even advance Ellis as his "alternate suspect," instead focusing on another teenager from the neighborhood, Riley Joe Sanders.  The juries in both the 2007 and 2019 trials quickly rejected all alternate suspects in favor of Temple.



In the meantime, DeGuerin (now joined by Stanley Schneider) filed an "Out of Time Motion for New Trial or Alternative Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus Based on Actual Innocence, Newly Discovered Evidence, and the Willful Suppression of Exculpatory Evidence." (Stanley apparently gets paid by the word.)  It is worth noting that during all of this, the Lykos Administration never bothered communicating what was going on to the family of Belinda Lucas Temple, which is something I noted here.


Wanting to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Lykos appointed local defense attorney Brad Beers to be a "special prosecutor" on the Temple matter.  There was a small conflict of interest on that, however, seeing as how Beers had previously represented Clappart twice (once in a lawsuit and once on a disciplinary infraction within the Office).

All of this ultimately led to a hearing in 2015 that David Temple wasn't entitled to and that very few others have been the beneficiary of.  During that hearing, Stan Schnieder and then-licensed attorney Casie Gotro got to revisit the entirety of the Temple case.  That rendition of Team Temple rejected at least five judges to hear the extra-judicial hearing before settling on Judge Larry Gist.

As we all know, the multi-week hearing ultimately resulted in findings from Gist that Kelly Siegler had been untimely in turning over evidence to Dick DeGuerin during the 2007 trial, and recommended that Temple receive a new trial.  My opinion then and my opinion now is that Judge Gist wasn't paying attention to much of the evidence that he was hearing.  He certainly wasn't paying attention when he signed off on an order where Gotro and Schneider had slipped in an extra finding.

I know that I'm biased, because Kelly Siegler is one of my best friends, but I will go to my grave feeling that the District Attorney's response to Gist's finding, coupled with Houston Press journalist Craig Malisow's article Unreasonable Doubt: Did Kelly Siegler Really Railroad an Innocent Man Eight Years Ago held far more accurate accounts of the Temple hearing than Gist's findings.

Regardless of how I feel, or how Kelly Siegler's detractors feel, David Temple ultimately got his case reversed.  Due to Kelly's fame as one of the best prosecutors in the State of Texas, the Houston Chronicle writers were ecstatic.  Lisa Falkenberg wrote a really touching article on how Clappart and Denholm were heroic and brave for taking a stand in pursuing the "real killer," despite losing friends.

SPOILER ALERT:  Denholm and Clappart lost friends because everyone knew that they (and their warrant) were full of shit, Lisa.  They were full of shit then and they are full of shit now.  Just FYI.

Brother Denholm even had the audacity to file a grievance against me with the State Bar (with attached affidavits from Gotro and Schneider) for daring to blog about Temple (and try to ruin Temple's fight for freedom).  It got rejected summarily.  I'm still a practicing lawyer, and that's all I'll say about that topic.

And then came the Reign of Ogg.

Kim Ogg took Office on January 1, 2017, and in her inauguration speech, she thanked Dick DeGuerin profusely for all he had done for her and her career.  Within a week, she vowed to be the One Woman Review Team who decided whether or not the District Attorney's Office would retry David Temple.  She appointed Steve Clappart to be her CHIEF investigator, and hired John Denholm to a Division Chief position.  Despite these clear conflicts of interest with Team Temple, Ogg steadfastly refused to recuse herself from the case.

Again, the Houston Chronicle was giddy with the prospect of the Temple Case being dismissed, because, you know, Kelly Siegler cheated!




While in the midst of Ogg's One Woman Review of Temple, DeGuerin even threw her a fundraiser! It was co-hosted by Paul Looney, who had also been a member of Team Temple at one point.


Coincidentally, Team Temple attorney Stan Schneider said that he was "completely comfortable" in whatever Ogg decided.  Gee, I wonder why.  

Ultimately, Kim Ogg relented under public pressure and recused the Harris County District Attorney's Office from The State of Texas vs. David Temple.

And the result? Justice. He was convicted again of Murder last week.

The circus that surrounded his case merely resulted in him getting a two and a half year break from prison that he clearly did not deserve.  Somewhere in the midst of all of this, the prosecutorial team of Lisa Tanner and Bill Turner were able to turn the focus back to the evidence of the case and back to Belinda Lucas Temple and her unborn daughter, Erin.

The postponement of the punishment phase to March will hopefully serve as merely an extremely lengthy epilogue for David Temple.  The real story concluded with the guilty verdict and Temple going back into custody.

Justice prevailed last week.  

22 comments:

  1. Well done Murray. Clappart and Denholm are two disgusting individuals who sold their souls to the devil. The fact that either have leadership positions correlates the disastrous leadership of that office.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As an HCSO Homicide Unit supervisor, I'm disgusted to be associated with Denholm and his lying a$$ buddy Clappart. What a sh$& show of criminal justice they are.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent summary of a political lynching which had absolutely nothing to do with justice. All of this was solely intended to smear the reputation of a possible political opponent. Amazing what people will do for power, money, revenge and ego.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not so surprised. Those in Team Temple consciously chose to put the Lucas family through ANOTHER nightmare with this whole business!!! No morals...no ethics...no sense!

      Delete
  4. Murray,

    Essentially Larry Gist ruled at the Habeas hearing that David Temple was denied a fair trial because ADA Kelly Siegler withheld material exculpatory evidence at trial #1.
    So, exactly what NEW material exculpatory evidence was offered up by DeGuerin's boy, Stan, at trial #2?
    The answer is obviously none. Temple was guilty at trial #2 just like he was at trial #1. There was no prosecutorial misconduct only political misconduct fabricated by Deguerin & Co.'s frail ego.
    Judge Gist ought to be ashamed.

    Kelly has FINALLY been vindicated, but at what cost?
    Riley Joe Sanders has FINALLY been vindicated, but at what cost?
    The Lucas family is still in limbo.
    A ruthless killer is about to be bonded out with nothing to lose.............who will he murder next and where will he flee?

    What a costly criminal conspiracy Temple's defense team has wrought on the citizens of Harris County, most of all to the Lucas family.

    Just Sayin'


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hoping the judge denies bond or sets it very high. Davis Temple should remain behind bars.

      Delete
  5. Great summary, I'm sure justice won't be delayed much longer. Kudos to Tanner & Turner!

    ReplyDelete
  6. No surprise about Denholm, I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire!! He allowed my ex- husband to get away with assaulting me, just because he was one of his cronies in HCSO homicide at the time!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tanner and Turner did a great job, as did Siegler. Stan worked with what he had. HCDAO under Ogg showed, once again, how hollow their words about “evidence, not relationship “ based prosecution are. I wonder if Lisa will cover this result as breathlessly as she did the review? Something tells me no....

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Temples' pretense that David is their repentant Prodigal Son is sickening.
    Heather Temple, the Katy community, Harris County law enforcement, the Texas AG's office, and anyone who has objectively and accurately followed the execution-style murder of Belinda Temple and her unborn 8-month-old baby girl don't trust this turd and appreciate the depravity he is capable of.
    He is now more motivated than ever to continue his carnage and/or flee.
    No one actually expects Houston's OJ to show up for his punishment trial after being bonded out.
    If his ultimate wish is death by cop I hope it's a double-tap to the face.

    Too bad Karma's not enough to order DeGuerin, Schneider, Gotro, and Gist to be waterboarded.
    Talk about truth revealed and justice served!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I saw this case on either 48 hours of Dateline and remember when he got out of jail and a new trial was ordered. I thought wow they must have some amazing evidence. I knew of Siegler's reputation and was surprised she was being accused of with holding evidence because I knew her to be tough but fair.
    I then read they were thinking about not retrying him and I thought Boy they really have good evidence. I followed the trial and was waiting for the bomb shell to drop and nothing. Not one shred that did not point to Temple as the killer, it all pointed to him. I live in Ky and had no idea about what all was going on so thank you for this. A true travesty and how dare they put Belinda's family through this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Murray, in your personal opinion do you think Siegler made a huge mistake by not giving DeGuerin every piece of evidence no matter how trivial it may have seemed? It just seems she could've/would've been "Here you go Dick, it's not going to do you any good but this is everything we have.".

    ReplyDelete
  11. There once was a young badass from Katy;
    Played football, hunted ducks and chased the ladies.
    Boom, his football days are all done as are his ladies.
    Now he's just an old fat ass from the penitentiary.

    David Temple got his new day in court.
    Prosecutorial misconduct? What a ruse.
    Guilty then and now again. What a crock.
    Team Temple is no longer so amused.

    Losing Dumpster Fire Little Dick.
    Whoring Heather finally filing.
    Exposing Stanley as a feckless prick.
    David sure as Hell ain't smiling.

    Lykos the nasty nefarious malodorous Troll.
    Wee man jacked up Jimmy Leitner.
    Fundraised with DeGuerin to get this to roll.
    Nothing left now, save a fuelless Gas Lighter.

    Gotro's gone to Neverneverland.
    Kelly's gone to Hollywood.
    Lisa Faulkner's soulmate is sand.
    David Temple's gone to prisonhood.

    Consequences are a bitch.

    Twilight Zoned

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great articulate round up of all the facts as usual Murray. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I seriously hope this becomes a campaign issue. Clappart was a disaster as an investigator with HCDAO. Look at his evaluations. And the fact that he thought it was OK to search the judges' offices after Harvey just reaffirms that fact. So Leitner turned to Clappart (because let's face it, Leitner is as much of an idiot as Clappart). And Denholm, he's the guy that yells at cops and tells them they left their balls in a box (even in today's me too environment). Plus he has always been a little intellectually challenged. And Napoleonic too. Ogg went all in on the theory because she will do ANYTHING to win. It was politically convenient at the time for her. She has no morals just like her dad. And let's save the Looney, Diepraam, Waller County DA kickback scheme for another day. I still can't believe nothing has been done about that. And the Amir story is out there festering too. HCDAO is a disaster. Like Chernobyl disaster. But Murray, you thought she would be a good DA and ignored everyone who told you otherwise. The consequences of her election have been a disaster for citizens, employees, police officers, and the court system.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Temple is a moron so I doubt he would do this, but he should seriously consider avoiding a retrial of the penalty phase.

    You never know what the prosecutors office is willing to accept but I assume they'd be willing to play ball where he could do a solid 25-30 years and be able to enjoy a few years with his son (and probably grandchildren by then).

    ReplyDelete
  15. You're possibly a little too close to Kelly, which is the reason you may not post this reply. Liking someone does not give them a pass on doing the right thing. You can't give proper discovery in the middle of trial, especially if the evidence is exculpatory. Kelly should be disbarred: and I suspect you know that as well.

    If the AG's office does not recommend less than what they should, Temple will be retired on punishment and get life.

    The moral - some appellate lawyers do not make good trial lawyers, and in the words of Judge Sam Robertson, “if it is even possibly exculpatory disclose it.”

    ReplyDelete


  16. “Anonymous said...
    I seriously hope this becomes a campaign issue. Clappart was a disaster as an investigator with HCDAO. Look at his evaluations. And the fact that he thought it was OK to search the judges' offices after Harvey just reaffirms that fact. So Leitner turned to Clappart (because let's face it, Leitner is as much of an idiot as Clappart). And Denholm, he's the guy that yells at cops and tells them they left their balls in a box (even in today's me too environment). Plus he has always been a little intellectually challenged. And Napoleonic too. Ogg went all in on the theory because she will do ANYTHING to win. It was politically convenient at the time for her. She has no morals just like her dad. And let's save the Looney, Diepraam, Waller County DA kickback scheme for another day. I still can't believe nothing has been done about that. And the Amir story is out there festering too. HCDAO is a disaster. Like Chernobyl disaster. But Murray, you thought she would be a good DA and ignored everyone who told you otherwise. The consequences of her election have been a disaster for citizens, employees, police officers, and the court system.”

    Gone are the likes of Devon Anderson and Chuck Rosenthal, and those who believe in winning at all costs. Kim’s only fault is that she is a democrat, and the only DA who has undertaken such a massive restructure of the DA’s office in more than 75 years. Ogg was right not hire many of the hold-overs. There is a similar turnover every time a new party takes the white house. Those disgruntled sounds you hear are coming from attorney’s and investigators who tied their future to a sinking ship. The consequences of her electon will be positive in the long run. This will be proven by her reelection in 2020.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anon August 15, @12:47 pm,
    Yes, I am close with Kelly and I always state that as a caveat so nobody can accuse my agenda as being “hidden.” That being said, i’ve Yet to hear any specifics about what she allegedly hid that was supposed to be exculpatory. The findings on Temple by Gist ultimately were all headline and no story. The items that were alleged to have been “hidden” were things that had been addressed in trial or things that even Dick acknowledged having well before trial.

    The focus on Kelly’s conduct regarding discovery ultimately was criticized for its timeliness, not that it was never turned over. There were different rules back then and in my opinion, Kelly followed those rules. The rules of disclosure have evolved over the past ten years in a way that are very favorable to the defense bar, and that’s a good thing. But prior to Michael Morton, I can recall the Brazos County Attorney’s Office wouldn’t even let the defense attorney LOOK AT the offense report until after the officer had testified. The standards on how we judge things from the past always seem to be 20/20 in the present.

    Kelly and Dick had a lot of animosity towards them. Hell, Dick even had a grievance filed against Kelly (pre-Temple) for practicing under the name of Siegler when her law degree had her maiden name on it. It was not a cordial working relationship. But I still believe that Kelly followed the rules that were in place at the time, even if those standards are not the rules now.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anon August 15, @3:22 p.m.,

    I agree that Many of Kim’s policies were excellent and overdue, but her mass firings had more to do with internal-political paranoia than progressive prosecution ideals. She has been a huge disappointment to me, personally. I didn’t realize that her paranoia was so much worse than Lykos. She has proven herself to be a terrible manager of people and her personnel choices have been disastrous (firing Tom Berg? Really?)

    It is such a shame because she had all of the tools to be an amazing leader with great people and great policies. She blew it and she blew it big time. It is a travesty. Brian Middleton seems to be having no trouble in Fort Bend of having a progressive office where the prosecutors are actually happy and proud to come to work in the morning. It can be done.

    You are absolutely correct that she will probably win in 2020, but what could have been a shining example of great and progressive prosecution in a DA Office will have been replaced by a dead end job that runs good prosecutors to outlying jurisdictions.

    ReplyDelete