How did convicted killer David Temple get bond? Our legal analyst takes a look

David Temple looks over the gallery in a Houston courtroom during a bond hearing Aug. 30, 2019.
David Temple looks over the gallery in a Houston courtroom during a bond hearing Aug. 30, 2019.

HOUSTON – David Temple, who has been twice convicted of killing his wife 20 years ago, was granted bond Friday while he awaits a new penalty phase of his trial sometime next year.

Earlier this month, a jury found David Temple guilty of murder in the slaying of his pregnant wife at the couple's Katy home in January 1999.

That same jury couldn't come to an agreement on David Temple's punishment, which resulted in a mistrial for the sentencing phase.

On Friday, a judge granted Temple a bond of $1 million. That has left many people asking how a man who has been found guilty of murder can be granted a chance of being released from prison while he awaits sentencing.

Here's a closer look at the issue from KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice.

Why was there a bond hearing to begin with?

Even though Temple has been convicted of murder, a first-degree felony that carries a possible penalty of five to 99 years or life in prison, and was taken into custody following the jury's verdict of guilty, he is entitled to a new bond until another jury can be impaneled to assess his punishment.

The purpose of Friday's hearing was to permit both sides to elicit evidence in support of, or against, a bond being set. 

The judge said Temple was entitled to bond under the law. Which law is she talking about?

Both the United States and Texas constitutions, as well as the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, provide that every defendant has the right to reasonable bail pending trial unless the state can show that facts and circumstances exist where bond may be denied.

That right also extends to defendants who have been convicted of a crime, including murder, who are awaiting a new punishment hearing, as in this case, and can demonstrate their entitlement to bond. 

The judge could have denied bond. Why did she grant it?

The only way the judge could have lawfully denied bond was to conclude by a preponderance of the evidence that Temple was a flight risk, a danger to the community or both. Because the evidence before her apparently did not meet either or both exceptions, the law compelled her to set a bond pending Temple's new punishment hearing which will likely take place next spring. The case will essentially be re-tried during that hearing.

Could David Temple, a convicted killer, walk out of jail now?

Given the fact that the judge set a million-dollar bond, the only place Temple will be walking for the foreseeable future is back to the Harris County Jail.  

In my 40 years as a criminal defense attorney and 25 years as a legal analyst, I have yet to see any defendant in Harris County or, for that matter, Texas, make a $1 million bond.

Can Temple's bond be reduced?

I'm confident that Temple's lawyer will appeal the trial judge's ruling to the court of appeals to seek a decidedly lower bond. By law, the court of appeals must put Temple's appeal in this matter on the fast track.

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