David Temple's lawyers and family members called for Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to release the convicted murderer on bond in light of a judge's findings that the chief prosecutor in his 2007 trial withheld evidence from the defense.
Flanked by Temple's parents and brother, attorneys Stan Schneider and Casie Gotro said at a press conference Monday that Anderson has ignored their requests to agree to a bond, as well as to appoint a special, outside prosecutor to re-investigate the 1999 shotgun slaying of Temple's wife, Belinda, who was eight months pregnant.
Monday's press conference was a response to visiting judge Larry Gist's recommendation last week that Temple be granted a new trial. Gist's findings outline a systematic effort by prosecutors — most notably Siegler — to suppress records both during and following the trial. (It's now up to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to decide whether to follow Gist's recommendation).
Temple's brother Darren told reporters, "This has been a 16-year-journey for David and our family, and we are here today to say again, David is innocent. My brother has spent 8 long years in a Texas state prison. He was failed by a legal system that failed him, failed their child, failed our family, but most importantly, failed Belinda so miserably."
Gotro said the District Attorney's Office continued this stonewalling even during the habeas hearing for Temple, in which Siegler testified that she believed she didn't have to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense if she found the evidence lacked merit.
"'Resistance' would be an understatement," Gotro said of her and Schneider's attempts to obtain records. "....We made open record requests asking for emails from [Siegler] to other [assistant] district attorneys, to the Sheriff's Office, and were flatly told they didn't exist. But in the course of this ten-week hearing, information started coming out, slowly but surely."
Schneider and Gotro showed off 1,319 pages worth of material they said Temple's trial attorney, Dick DeGuerin, didn't have access to, emphasizing witness statements that they said would have undermined the prosecution's timeline theory and showed that Temple only had 6-8 minutes to kill his wife, stage a burglary, change clothes, and appear on a supermarket security camera video with his son afterward.
Those statements came in the form of tape-recorded interviews of Belinda Temple's co-workers, who told investigators they saw her in the school parking lot shortly after 3:30 p.m., speaking on her cell phone. Gotro said those recordings were not included in the material originally turned over to her and Schneider, and that prosecutor Andrew Smith assured Temple's team that they had all available audio recordings.
But seven or eight weeks into the habeas proceedings, Gotro said, Temple's team uncovered an email including a case file index that referenced those particular recordings.
"So even though Andrew Smith had told the court there were no audio recordings, we found them anyway," Gotro said. "And so it's not just Kelly that was misrepresenting whether or not they existed and whether or not she heard them, we have a current prosecutor...telling the court there are no audio cassette recordings, when there were."
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Jeff McShan, spokesman for the D.A.'s Office, said Anderson had no comment.
Siegler, now in private practice, appears on the TNT reality series "Cold Justice." A receptionist at her office told us she was unavailable for comment — because she was busy filming.
Update 5:20 p.m.: Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson's office sent us this statement this afternoon:
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office will file objections to Judge Larry Gist’s findings.
We do not agree that a bond should be granted in this case because Judge Larry Gist specifically ruled that relief for David Temple, based on actual innocence, was not justified.
The Court of Criminal Appeals will rule on the Temple case after a thorough review of the judge’s findings, and the objections filed by our office. Any actions such as reopening an investigation into this case would be premature.