HOUSTON – The retrial of a former high school football coach accused of killing his pregnant wife two decades ago began Monday with opening statements.
Three people who knew Belinda Temple, including two teachers who worked with her at Katy High School, were the first set of witnesses to be called by the prosecution to testify.
An unusual family reunion of sorts unfolded inside the downtown Houston courtroom where the trial is being held. For the first time in over a decade, the Temples and the Lucases -- Belinda’s Temple’s family -- are all together, reliving the memories of a 20-year-old murder case.
David Temple is charged with murder in the 1999 slaying of Belinda Temple. He sat at a table in the courtroom while prosecutors and his attorneys laid out their cases to the jurors.
After more than two hours of opening statements, the judge called a recess for lunch.
David Temple spent nine years in prison after a jury convicted him in 2007. After a lengthy appeals process, his conviction was overturned in 2016 for prosecutorial misconduct. He was released on bond while he awaited a new trial.
Special prosecutors were appointed by a judge in 2017 to review the case and decide whether Temple would be tried again.
“This is a circumstantial evidence case, not going to shy from that. This case is a puzzle with a whole lot of pieces you've already seen that we are going to put this pieces together for you but it’s going to take some time. Be patient," said Lisa Tanner, the special prosecutor with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. "When we put all the pieces together, it's going to be real clear to you. There is only one person on this earth who could have done this ... when it's over, we are going to ask you to come back here and find this defendant guilty.”
Tanner made those remarks during her hourlong opening statements Monday.
David Temple has maintained his innocence, and his attorneys have tried to have the charge against him dismissed.
Defense attorney Stanley Schneider explained to jurors in his opening statements that timeline of the murder is flawed.
"David Temple could not have killed his wife, even though he betrayed her. But law enforcement betrayed us by their investigation. As we listen to this evidence, one thing is going to be clear, this timeline is anchored in facts. It is anchored in contemporaneous statements by Ken Temple on Jan. 11. It is anchored by time and distance that can’t be changed,” Schneider said.
The judge is only allowing live television coverage of the opening statements, the closing arguments and the verdict.