Judge: No new trial in pregnant wife's slaying
HOUSTON -- A former high school coach who claims new evidence shows he is innocent of his pregnant wife's slaying was dealt a setback Monday in his efforts to have his conviction overturned when a Texas judge dismissed his motion for a new trial.
David Temple was sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 shooting death of his wife. Prosecutors accused him of staging the crime to look like a burglary and killing his wife because he was having an affair with another woman, whom he later married.
Temple's attorneys had filed a motion for a new trial, asking for a hearing to present what they say is new evidence that implicates someone else in the murder.
But state District Judge David Mendoza said he doesn't have the authority to rule on the motion because an appeal is still pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Mendoza said he was not ruling on the merits of the motion, only that he doesn't have jurisdiction in the matter.
Temple's attorneys said they will ask the appeals court to rule on whether Mendoza does have jurisdiction.
"We've not given up. We're not quitting. We are going as far as we can," Dick DeGuerin, one of Temple's attorneys, said after the hearing.
Alan Curry, an assistant Harris County district attorney, told Mendoza his office has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the new information in the case and until that probe is finished, it would be premature to hold a hearing for a new trial.
"We're not trying to prevent the defendant (from presenting) his claim," he said. "It's important this court allow time to go by so the investigation can be concluded."
Temple's attorneys say a witness who had previously stayed silent heard someone else admit to burglarizing the couple's home in Katy, in suburban Houston, and firing a shotgun.
Temple's attorneys have long maintained the person who killed his wife was a teenage neighbor, Riley Joe Sanders. Belinda Temple, who was a high school guidance counselor, reported Sanders to his parents for skipping class, according to the defense motion.
Temple's attorneys also contend Sanders' family owned multiple 12-gauge shotguns, the weapon used to kill Belinda Temple.
Chip Lewis, an attorney for Sanders, said DeGuerin suggested at Temple's 2007 trial that Sanders was responsible for the killing and even cross-examined him, but the jury still convicted Temple.
"Riley Joe Sanders' position hasn't changed one bit in this case. He has always maintained that he had nothing to do with Belinda Temple's death," said Lewis, who added he is seeking access to the new evidence in order to review it.
DeGuerin also has accused the trial prosecutor, Kelly Siegler, of withholding evidence that could have cast doubt on Temple's guilt. Siegler, now in private practice in Houston, has denied DeGuerin's allegations.
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