Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Belleair man questions jurors for his own murder trial

LARGO — On the first day of his murder trial, Robert Glenn Temple told a jury, "I know nothing about the law" and "I'm probably the dumbest guy you'll ever meet when it comes to that."

But that has not stopped him from acting as his own attorney, and on Monday he faced trial on a charge of murdering his wife, Rosemary Christensen, in 1999.

"My name is Robert Temple, I'm the accused in this case," he told potential jurors. "I don't expect anybody to like me before this trial is over."

But if jurors really listen to both sides, he said, "I'm going home to be with my children and grandchildren."

Assistant State Attorney William Loughery objected to that comment, saying Temple was supposed to be asking jurors questions at that stage, not making arguments.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip J. Federico agreed, and even Temple seemed to concede it. "I'm not one of these three learned attorneys over here,'' he said, referring to the trio of prosecutors working against him. "I'm just a guy that's wanting to defend myself and tell the truth."

But prosecutors say he's just a guy who killed his wife and got his girlfriend to help him cover it up.

After Christensen disappeared in 1999, Temple told reporters he was worried and wanted to find her.

But his girlfriend, Lesley L. Stewart, later stepped forward and said Temple stabbed Christensen to death. Stewart says Temple persuaded her to help dispose of the body, and convinced her she would go to prison if she ever told anyone. She came forward anyway in 2008, nearly a decade after Christensen was killed. She also helped authorities find Christensen's body.

On Monday, Temple, 61, appeared in court in a wheelchair, wearing short-sleeved jail scrubs over long johns. Acting as his own attorney meant Temple himself was allowed to question jurors about whether they could be impartial.

At one point in the morning, the judge, attorneys and Temple retreated to a conference room to talk individually to jurors who said they had heard some news coverage about the case.

"I think he's guilty," one woman said, after Federico questioned her in a conference room.

"Thank you for your honesty," Temple said politely.

The conference room proved too intimate for some, because jurors sat at a table about a dozen feet away from the man accused of murder. When Federico asked whether one potential juror thought Temple was guilty, she said, "I don't like to answer that" when he was sitting so close.

Temple chuckled and said, "It's all right, I can't get out of my wheelchair."

She added that "quite honestly, I'm a little suspicious" about his guilt.

Early Monday, before potential jurors were brought into the courtroom, Temple sparred with Federico over various legal issues.

Temple complained that as a jail inmate, arrangements had not been made for him to view several CDs and DVDs of evidence against him. He complained that he wished someone could provide him with better clothes.

At another point, Temple argued a legal regulation called the Williams rule should prevent a key witness from talking about crimes he may have committed in the past. Federico said this would not violate the Williams rule, for reasons that would be easier to explain "if you'd gone to law school."

Temple complained to Federico that "I already know you're prejudiced and biased against me."

"That's productive," Federico deadpanned.

At another point, Temple complained to Federico, "You've already found me guilty, so what difference does it make?"

Temple also said he intended to let the potential jurors know that he had been made to wear a device on his leg that will give him an electric shock if officials decide he is acting out in the courtroom.

"No, you're not going to do that," Federico told him. And he didn't.

Although Temple has been planning for months to represent himself, he changed his mind early Monday, and the judge asked his standby counsel, Assistant Public Defender Mary Obermeyer, if she could step in. She said it would take more time for her to prepare.

Then Temple changed his mind again, and said he wanted to represent himself after all.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or

Robert Glenn Temple, accused of killing his wife, talks Monday with his previously court-appointed attorney, Mary Obermeyer.

Associated Press

Robert Glenn Temple, accused of killing his wife, talks Monday with his previously court-appointed attorney, Mary Obermeyer.

Belleair man questions jurors for his own murder trial 07/25/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 3:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cue the Scott Frost to Nebraska speculation


    Nebraska shook up the college sports world Thursday afternoon when it fired athletic director Shawn Eichorst.

    And that should scare UCF fans.

  2. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us


    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on display, and it brought illness and death.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman.
  3. Make-A-Wish Foundation aims to help more kids in Tampa Bay


    The Make-A-Wish Foundation is on the lookout for sick children in the Tampa Bay area who need a once-in-a-lifetime pick-me-up.

    Grace Savage, a 10-year-old girl with a chromosomal disorder made a trek to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium last year, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The foundation intends to beef up its presence in the Tampa Bay area after a reorganization. The region is now the responsibility of the foundation's Southern Florida chapter, one of the most active in the country, with more than 11,000 wishes granted so far. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times ]
  4. William March: Frank Reddick says all-white Tampa council possible


    A decline in the percentage of black voters in Tampa's only majority-black City Council district, District 5, has council member Frank Reddick worried.

    City Council member Frank Reddick said that if Tampa can't maintain African-American voter numbers, he could be the council's last African-American representative. [JAMES BORCHUK   |   Times (2016)]
  5. Florida hides details in nursing home reports. Federal agencies don't.


    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott widened his offensive Thursday against the Broward nursing home he blames for the deaths of 10 residents by setting up a tip line for information, but when it comes to access to the inspection reports of all nursing homes, the governor's administration has heavily censored what the …

    In the foreground is a document detailing the findings of a Feb. 2016 inspection at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills obtained from a federal agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Behind it is the state?€™s version of the same document, from the Agency for Health Care Administration, showing how it has been redacted before being released to the public. [Miami Herald]