Temple v. State

Citation342 S.W.3d 572
Decision Date24 May 2011
Docket NumberNo. 14–08–00074–CR.,14–08–00074–CR.
PartiesDavid Mark TEMPLE, Appellant,v.STATE of Texas, Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas

342 S.W.3d 572

David Mark TEMPLE, Appellant,
STATE of Texas, Appellee.

No. 14–08–00074–CR.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (14th Dist.).

Dec. 21, 2010.Rehearing En Banc Denied May 24, 2011.

[342 S.W.3d 581]

Dick DeGuerin, Stanley G. Schneider, Houston, for appellant.Alan Curry, Houston, for appellee.Panel consists of Justices YATES, SEYMORE, and BROWN.


Appellant, David Mark Temple, was convicted of the murder of his wife, Belinda Temple, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Appellant challenges his conviction in eighty issues, which are grouped into the following categories:

[342 S.W.3d 582]

(1) the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support the jury's verdict (issues one and two);

(2) appellant's due-process rights were violated because of the State's Brady violations (issues three and four);

(3) the trial court erred by allowing the prosecutor to cross-examine appellant regarding the veracity of other witnesses (issues five through fourteen);

(4) the trial court erred by allowing the prosecutor to inject unsupported and inflammatory facts during cross-examination of appellant (issues fifteen through twenty-four);

(5) the trial court erred by allowing the prosecutor to engage repeatedly in improper jury argument (issues twenty-five through sixty-seven); and

(6) the trial court erred by overruling numerous hearsay objections (issues sixty-eight through eighty).

We affirm.

I. Background

Appellant was raised in Katy by Kenneth and Maureen Temple. Interstate 10 (“I–10”) runs east-to-west through Katy. Kenneth and Maureen lived in a house north of I–10 and surrounded by fields in which appellant and his brothers, Darren and Kevin, hunted. At the time of Belinda's death, Kenneth and Maureen still lived in that house.

During the mid–1980s, appellant was a star linebacker on the Katy High School football team. After high school, appellant played football at Stephen F. Austin State University (“SFA”) in Nacogdoches. During college, appellant met and began dating Belinda. While dating, appellant and Belinda acquired a Chow-mix dog they named Shaka. Appellant and Belinda married in 1992 and spent the next two years earning post-graduate degrees from SFA and teaching and coaching in Livingston.

In 1994, appellant and Belinda moved to Katy. Appellant was employed as an assistant football coach at Alief Hastings High School, and Belinda taught at Katy High School. They eventually bought a home south of I–10 in the Cimarron subdivision, an approximately fifteen-minute drive from Kenneth and Maureen's home. At the time of Belinda's death, appellant and Belinda had a three-year old son, E.T., and Belinda was almost eight-months pregnant, expecting a girl.

On Monday, January 11, 1999, Belinda was at work when she was informed E.T. was running a fever at daycare. During lunch, Belinda retrieved E.T. and took him home. At approximately 12:30 p.m., appellant arrived home to watch E.T., allowing Belinda to return to her school until around 3:30 p.m. Between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m., Belinda arrived at Kenneth and Maureen's home to retrieve soup. She briefly spoke with Kenneth and then drove home. Belinda arrived home sometime before 4:00 p.m. Appellant claims that, after Belinda arrived home, he and E.T. left so that Belinda could rest.

According to appellant, he drove his blue, short-bed pickup truck to the small park in his neighborhood, Cimarron Park. Appellant testified that shortly after arriving at the park, he and E.T. decided to go to a larger park, Peckham Park, several miles away, north of I–10. Appellant claimed he stopped at a Brookshire Brothers grocery store north of I–10 where he purchased drinks and cat food. Appellant and E.T. were videotaped entering the store at 4:32 and leaving at 4:38. Appellant testified he then decided to go to Home Depot to look at shelving for the baby's room. Appellant and E.T. were videotaped entering Home Depot at 5:14

[342 S.W.3d 583]

p.m. but were not videotaped exiting the store.

Appellant and E.T. returned home and pulled into the garage. The Temples' garage was detached from their home and had a door leading into their backyard. Appellant testified that he left E.T. in the garage, went into the backyard, and noticed the back door to the house was open, and the door's window was broken. According to appellant, he immediately grabbed E.T. and took him across the street to the home of Michael and Peggy Ruggiero. Appellant banged on the door and yelled, “Mike, Mike, it's me, David. Let me in.” Michael and Peggy opened the door, and appellant handed them E.T., told them his house had been burglarized, and asked them to call 911. Appellant then ran back to his house with Michael following. Appellant entered through the back gate and went into his house. Michael stopped at the gate when confronted by Shaka, but saw appellant enter his house and the back door close behind him.

Appellant testified that he went upstairs and found Belinda's body in the closet of the master bathroom. It is undisputed that Belinda was killed by a shotgun blast to the back of her head. At 5:38 p.m., appellant called 911. The 911 dispatcher instructed appellant to perform CPR on Belinda, but he responded, “I can't. Her head is just gone.”

While Michael was still holding the back gate to prevent Shaka from escaping, law-enforcement personnel began arriving at the Temple home. Appellant exited his house through the back door and announced that Belinda was dead. He then placed Shaka in the garage.

More law-enforcement personnel arrived, and crime-scene investigators began processing the scene. Appellant was placed in the back of a patrol car. Kenneth and Maureen later arrived at the scene. That night, appellant and his parents were questioned at a local substation by detectives with the Harris County Sheriff's Office. Appellant gave a written statement regarding his and Belinda's activities that day. Detective Charles Leithner questioned appellant about several apparent inconsistencies in his statement. Appellant and his parents were informed that appellant was a suspect in Belinda's murder. Early the next morning, appellant left the substation and went to his parents' home. Appellant and E.T. resided with appellant's parents until the summer of 2001, when he remarried.

In 2005, appellant was indicted for Belinda's murder.1 In November 2007, a jury found appellant guilty as charged in the indictment and assessed punishment at life imprisonment. The trial court denied appellant's timely filed motion for new trial.

II. Sufficiency of the Evidence

In his first and second issues, appellant argues the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to support his conviction. While this appeal was pending, five judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that only one standard should be used to evaluate whether the evidence is sufficient to support a criminal conviction beyond a reasonable doubt: legal sufficiency. See Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 905–07 (Tex.Crim.App.2010) (plurality op.); id. at 926–28 (Cochran, J., concurring). Accordingly, we will apply the legal-sufficiency standard when addressing appellant's legal-sufficiency and factual-sufficiency arguments. See

[342 S.W.3d 584]

Pomier v. State, 326 S.W.3d 373, 378–79 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, no pet. h.) (applying single standard of review required by Brooks ).

A. Applicable Law and Standard of Review

A person commits murder if he intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person or intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of another. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 19.02(b)(1), (2) (West 2003). A person acts intentionally with respect to the nature of his conduct or to a result of his conduct when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result. Id. § 6.03(a) (West 2003). A person acts knowingly with respect to the nature of his conduct or to circumstances surrounding his conduct when he is aware of the nature of his conduct or that the circumstances exist. Id. § 6.03(b). A person also acts knowingly if he is aware his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result. Id.

When reviewing sufficiency of the evidence, we view all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict to determine whether the jury was rationally justified in finding guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Brooks, 323 S.W.3d at 898–900 (plurality opinion). Following the admonitions of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Brooks, this court may not sit as a thirteenth juror and substitute its judgment for that of the fact finder by reevaluating the weight and credibility of the evidence. Id. at 904–05, 909–12; Dewberry v. State, 4 S.W.3d 735, 740 (Tex.Crim.App.1999); see also Sharp v. State, 707 S.W.2d 611, 614 (Tex.Crim.App.1986) (expressing the jury may choose to believe or disbelieve any portion of the testimony). We defer to the fact finder's resolution of conflicting evidence unless the resolution is not rational. See Clayton v. State, 235 S.W.3d 772 (Tex.Crim.App.2007). Our duty as a reviewing court is to ensure that the evidence presented actually supports a conclusion that the defendant committed the crime. Williams v. State, 235 S.W.3d 742, 750 (Tex.Crim.App.2007).

Circumstantial evidence is as probative as direct evidence in establishing the guilt of an actor, and circumstantial evidence alone can be sufficient to establish guilt. Hooper v. State, 214 S.W.3d 9, 13 (Tex.Crim.App.2007). The Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed murder convictions based solely on inferences raised by circumstantial evidence. See, e.g., Clayton, 235 S.W.3d at 778–82; Guevara v. State, 152 S.W.3d 45, 49–52 (Tex.Crim.App.2004); King v. State, 29 S.W.3d 556, 564–65 (Tex.Crim.App.2000). An inference is a conclusion reached by considering other facts and deducing a logical consequence from them. Hooper,...

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