Let's take it page by page --
So, to be clear, in this document, Steve Clappart is attempting to have Capital Murder charges filed against Cody Ray Ellis. For those of you outside of the legal field, Capital Murder can be punished only by Life in Prison or the Death Penalty. By signing off on this warrant, Clappart is verifying that he is completely comfortable with this.
Clappart then goes on to explain how experienced he is as a police officer. He also goes on and on about how experienced John Denholm was as a police officer. This isn't necessarily abnormal, but it is pretty excessive for a standard warrant. Clappart is basically just illustrating that he is writing the warrant at Denholm's behest, but it should make no difference, because they are both just amazingly experienced.
Clappart then goes on to state that Denholm got all of his information after being contacted by David Temple's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin. This was what I criticized Lisa Falkenberg for being so ambiguous about in her article praising Clappart and Denholm.
On to Page Two . . .
Okay, so let's start with the fact that when John Denholm brings this case to Steve Clappart, all the research that he has done into this new "star witness" Daniel Glasscock is watch a video deposition of Glasscock that is conducted by David Temple's attorney, Dick DeGuerin. As noted, based on solely having watched the video where Glasscock is questioned by a defense attorney, John Denholm has decided that the testimony is credible and David Temple is wrongfully convicted.
So, Clappart decided to watch the video deposition, too. He also decides it is credible, and puts the details into the Probable Cause statement.
Let's breakdown what comes out of that deposition, shall we? Basically, Glasscock is saying that he went over to Riley Joe Sanders house with a guy named Carlos Corro. Corro tells them "things were fucked up in a robbery." While at Sanders house, Glasscock joins a conversation between Corro, Sanders and Cody Ray Ellis, where he hears Sanders tell Corro "that the dog attacked him when he went up the stairs, he shot the dog, heard Belinda [Temple], put the dog in the closet and they panicked and ran."
Let's assume that Glasscock was telling the truth (which is a big assumption to make) and that he actually heard these words uttered by Sanders. These words are still a far cry away from being a confession to Capital Murder. This is an admission to shooting a dog, and then fleeing when they hear a person [alleged to have been Belinda Temple].
Let's also look at the plausibility of this conversation taking place. Glasscock states that he just wandered out of the bathroom as the three boys were standing around talking about committing a home burglary/animal abuse/capital murder. Rather than stop the conversation, they keep on talking about it as if they were talking about an Astros game? At some point, they throw in the name of Belinda Temple, presumably so Glasscock won't feel left out of the conversation?
Clappart notes that Belinda Temple's dog was not in her house at the time of her murder, rather it was closed in the garage. Many investigators would have found this fact as evidence that Glasscock was not a reliable witness. Inexplicably, the dynamic duo of Clappart and Denholm find that it somehow strengthens his credibility.
Page Three . . .
Although it isn't clear whether or not law enforcement or Dick DeGuerin had Daniel Glasscock polygraph tested, Clappart notes that Glasscock has shown No Deception to "all pertinent questions asked." He doesn't list what those "pertinent" questions were, but okay. He is clearly doing everything he can to portray how amazingly credible Glasscock is.
At this point, Clappart starts looking into the background of Corro, Ellis and Sanders and notes that Corro and Ellis (along with a third party) had been arrested two months after Belinda Temple's murder for criminal mischief. He notes that Corro had been driving a white car during the criminal mischief and then points out that a witness had seen two white males "in an off-white or creme or light beige colored vehicle speed away from the area of the murder around 4:30 p.m. on the date of the murder."
So, I guess there are so few white cars in the world that this is somehow incriminating? Not to mention, the witness seems clear that it wasn't a white car, but an "off-white or creme or light beige" vehicle. To Clappart, this appears to be immensely damning.
Clappart also notes that Corro and Ellis had committed a burglary along with Casey Goosby, eight days before the murder. He notes that the target of this burglary was Goosby's mother's boyfriend and was done in retaliation for him cheating on her. He also notes that shotguns and jewelry had been taken in the burglary.
I can actually see where Clappart could find this significant. Burglaries in the area are certainly relevant. Burglaries are also frequent, and the typical things taken in burglaries are guns, jewelry, electronics and cash. Clappart then points out that Sanders (who was NOT part of the Goosby burglary) had a grudge against Belinda Temple.
This seems to be a case of two plus two equalling five, in my opinion. So, one of the Clappart/ Denholm suspects committed a burglary shortly before the Temple murder and a different one of them had a grudge against Belinda Temple. If we combine the two, does that point to Capital Murder?
On to Page Four . . .
Clappart then moves in a strange direction with the warrant, by interviewing Riley Joe Sanders' ex-girlfriend, Niki Biondi Lundes. Clappart finds some level of significance in the fact that in 1999, Lundes was reluctant to admit that Sanders was her boyfriend. I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. Lundes tells him that Ellis, Corro, and Sanders were associates and that they had committed crimes together before. I don't know that this was really in question. More significantly, Lundes tells Clappart that Belinda Temple had been a tutor to Sanders on difficult subjects, and that Sanders called her the night of the murder, crying because he had heard Belinda Temple was dead.
Clappart then returns to shoring up his "star witness", Daniel Glasscock. He interviews Glasscock's father, who states that Daniel had told him about the information he had overheard Corro, Ellis and Sanders talking about. Mr. Glasscock said that his son had been threatened about not talking, but he encouraged his son to talk to the police, anyway. Mr. Glasscock said that Daniel ultimately talked to his minister, Jeff Adams, who had also told Daniel to tell the police.
I'm not really sure of the significance of this either? So, Mr. Glasscock can offer some hearsay evidence about something his son told him he heard? Maybe Clappart is going for some bolstering here, but I don't understand why it is in the warrant.
Page 5 (we're almost done here) . . .
Clappart states that he personally interviewed Glasscock on July 16, 2012, and points out that (just in case anyone forgot), he, Clappart has been a police investigator for 44 years. He points out his experience before deeming Glasscock to be "very credible." I've read hundred of warrants in my career, but I've never seen this level of Credibility Gymnastics ever put into a warrant. The reason Clappart is working so hard to make Glasscock seem credible is pretty apparent once Glasscock starts talking.
Glasscock tells Clappart of his own life of crime, but how now he is reformed and teaches gymnastics for children. He confirms the information from the deposition he gave to Dick DeGuerin. He recalls coming out of the bathroom at Sanders' house and finding Corro, Sanders and Ellis smoking on the back patio, talking about "shit was fucked up." Glasscock tells Clappart "'they had broke in the next door neighbor's house' and later in the interview said that Sanders was very panicky and told Corro that they had shot the dog and put it in the closet."
Here's where things get even more ridiculous.
"Your affiant said that Daniel Glasscock then told your affiant that 5 or 6 months ago, Glasscock had learned that the dog had not died and that it was Belinda Temple's body that was found in the closet . . ."Wait, what?
Clappart is interviewing Glasscock in July of 2012. The murder happened in 1999. Glasscock stated that he just learned of the murder in January of 2012?
Hang on, Glasscock has an explanation:
"Glasscock told your affiant that one night in May 2012 he could not sleep and woke up and turned on the television and was flipping through the channels when he saw a television program on the Temple murder and then recalled what he knew and what he had heard and began to think about what it would be like if Glasscock's father was in prison for a crime that he did not commit."Well, I guess if you put it that way, it makes perfect sense, right?
Finally, Page 6 . . .
So, to summarize, Glasscock, an ex-criminal (per the warrant) didn't know about the murder for twelve years, sees a TV show, remembers an obscure conversation from twelve years earlier, and contacts a convicted murderer's lawyer with some new information about shooting a dog.
Yep, that's what Capital Murder warrants are made of, according to John Denholm and Steve Clappart.
Upon reading the entirety of the warrant, it should become obvious why Temple's team didn't want it published. It should also become obvious why no judge in the courthouse would sign it.
It should also be noted that no prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office, other than Jim Leitner thought it was should be signed.
But, then again, Leitner was having the Office recuse itself in favor of Brad Beers -- who had been Steve Clappart's attorney. That makes it more fair, right?
If you're a prosecutor reading this, would you have taken Capital Murder charges based on that information?
If you're a judge, would you have signed the warrant?
And if you're a defense attorney, what would your reaction be if your client got arrested on a warrant like that?