The Man Convicted Twice of Killing his Wife
Some claim that David Temple may still be innocent of murdering his wife Belinda.
Belinda Lucas was an athlete at university. David Temple was a football star who attended the same university; it was a match made. The couple were inseparable; after a year, David proposed to Belinda on the University football pitch. The couple were married in 1992 and welcomed their first child, a boy Evan, in 1995; they seemed to have it all, including a perfect marriage. At least, that is what they wanted people to believe.
Belinda was a strong-willed confident woman who friends noticed became submissive when she was around David. David controlled all aspects of Belinda's life, including with whom she spent time. This included her family and twin sister, Brenda, who he referred to as white trash. However, it was not just her family he was derogatory about but Belinda herself. He was observed by several people making jokes about her weight.
Moving Away from Family
David was determined to have Belinda to himself and moved the family to Katy, Texas, close to his family, a considerable distance from hers. When Belinda's twin sister visited at Christmas 1998, she noticed that the couple was not getting on. David was verbally abusive to Belinda and constantly made fun of her appearance. Brenda also noticed her brother-in-law was lazy around the house. She urged her sister to stand up for herself.
She was not the only person noticing problems with the marriage; David's friends also had concerns. David would spend much of his spare time in bars and strip clubs. All were surprised when they learned Belinda was again pregnant, this time with a girl. Although the marriage was crumbling, everyone said that both of them were devoted parents.
Belinda's Last Day
On 11th January 1999, Belinda received a phone call to say that Evan was ill and could she pick him up from nursery. She had her job as a special education teacher to get to. She was also tired, being eight months pregnant, so she tried to contact David to help. It was not until midday that she reached him; he came home to help out.
At 330 pm, Belinda finished her job and left, calling in at David's parents for some soup to make their son feel better. When she got home at approximately 415 pm, she said she was going upstairs for an hour to rest. David said he had some errands to run, so he took Evan with him, stopping at the park on the trip. He returned home at 535 pm.
He told police that when he got home, he found the gate open when he was sure he had shut it. The window in the back door was also smashed. He ran to his neighbour's house and left his son with them. Whilst running back, he yelled, 'call 911 someone broke into our house.' One of the neighbours ran after him, but David refused to let him in the house. Instead, he went himself and found Belinda facedown in her wardrobe, dead with her mobile phone beside her.
David called 911 and told the police that his wife was dead. She had been shot. Dispatchers would state how calm he appeared on the phone. David remained calm until the police asked him for a statement. Police suspected him immediately.
The first thing the police found strange was that the dog had not barked when an intruder entered the home. The dog was known to bark continually, so did he know the intruder when he entered.
David's alibi was also suspicious. He said he had visited various shops whilst out. However, they could find no CCTV footage to back these claims. Furthermore, when they asked him which park he had visited with his son, he gave two different names.
The crime scene also appeared staged. The television lying on the floor had not been placed with enough force to unplug it. The back door glass was found in a place that suggested the door was open when it was smashed. Expensive jewellery and watches had not been taken even though they had been on the bedside table.
However, some facts supported David's story. The neighbour's children, who were home then, reported hearing gunfire at 435 pm.
A significant problem in the polices theory involved the known timeline. David and his young son Evan were captured on store security video, which was stamped at 4:32 pm. It had been confirmed what time Belinda had got home. If the video was correct, it would be impossible for David to have committed the murder, cleaned up, staged a break-in and gotten rid of the shotgun before appearing with Evan.
Despite the lack of forensic evidence, the police were still convinced David was the murderer. All they needed was a motive. Then they discovered that David was having an affair.
A Strong Motive
Heather Scott was a teacher at the same high school as David. The affair started slowly but soon started to get serious. The couple would engineer weekends away to spend time with each other.
One week before the murder, Heather ended the affair. David was devastated. After a few days, the couple was back together and clearly in love. Police believed that David had wanted Belinda out of the way so he could be with Heather, so he killed her. But, they could not prove this with any evidence.
The case stagnated, during which time in 2001, David and Heather married. However, the police did not give up, they sent clothes away to an FBI laboratory for testing and got the breakthrough they needed.
Breakthrough and Defence
The laboratory found matching gun residue on David and Belinda's clothing, indicating that David must have fired the gun that killed her. David was charged with murder in November 2004 and went to trial.
David's defence, though, had a good case; namely, they would present another suspect to the jury. That suspect was Riley Sanders. Riley was a student in Belinda's class who had been truanting regularly. When Belinda told his parents of his behaviour, they stopped him from using the family car, and he was furious. Not only that but Riley lived next door to Belinda and David.
The defence produced a 12 gauge shotgun as the murder weapon at trial. They stated the gun belonged to Riley's father and had been found at one of his friends. They noted the shells were identical to those found at the murder scene. The police denied this and stated that they had interviewed Riley and discounted him as a person of interest.
The prosecution produced evidence that David's family had also owned a 12 gauge shotgun.
Despite the presence of another suspect, David was convicted of Belinda's murder in 2007.
In 2012, the evidence against David was once again re-examined. When going through police records, David's team found other home break-ins identical to the one that occurred on the afternoon of the murder. Nine days before Belinda's murder, there had been an identical break-in near the Temples. Friends of Riley Sanders had perpetrated it.
David Glasscock, a friend of Sanders, had also stated that he had come back from the toilet a couple of days after the murder and heard Riley talking about a robbery that had gone wrong. He said he had to shoot a dog and place it in the wardrobe. Most thought that the dog he was referring to was Belinda. This evidence and an extensive police report that had been withheld from the defence were enough to overturn David's conviction. On 28th December 2016, a new trial was ordered. David had already served ten years for the murder.
In July 2019, two and a half years after his release, David was again in court. Again, the defence centred its case on Riley being the killer.
Riley took the stand and testified that he knew where he was on the afternoon of the murder. He had been smoking cannabis with a friend. He had passed out in his room and was woken later by the police cars attending Belinda's murder. However, the defence disputed that he could remember what he had done twenty-one years before the court date.
Halfway through the trial, though, Heather filed for divorce; having supported her husband throughout the case, she cited personality conflicts as the reason for their split.
Once again, the jury found David guilty. Before sentencing, the defence called David and Belinda's son, Evan, to the stand. Evan stated that he one hundred per cent believed his father to be innocent. This gave the jury a problem; they could not agree on a sentence for David. The judge claimed a mistrial, although the guilty verdict stood.
David's team claimed that the judge had abused his discretion in declaring a mistrial. He had created a situation where David would be subjected to double jeopardy laws, as he had been denied his right to have his fate decided by one jury. He lost this appeal in 2021. He remains behind bars waiting for his sentencing. The case has been postponed due to the pandemic. David still waits to know what his punishment will be.
The tragedy of this situation is that Evan has no family. He had no relationship with his mother's relatives due to the isolation David subjected them to. As a result, he lives as a young man who has lost his mother, sister, stepmother and father.
Did David Temple kill his eight-month pregnant wife, or did a disgruntled student get the ultimate revenge?