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Pinellas man accused of murder wants to represents himself, but says he needs more time

Robert Glenn Temple, acting as his own attorney, asked a judge for a delay in his murder trial. He was earlier represented by Assistant Public Defender Mary Obermeyer, seen in the background.

CURTIS KRUEGER | Times

Robert Glenn Temple, acting as his own attorney, asked a judge for a delay in his murder trial. He was earlier represented by Assistant Public Defender Mary Obermeyer, seen in the background.

LARGO — Robert Glenn Temple has decided to act as his own attorney, instead of letting his public defender represent him on the charge that he murdered his wife.

But on Tuesday, Temple admitted that he needs more time so he can study his case and the law. He asked Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico to delay his April trial for at least 90 days.

"I haven't had the chance to do the research," Temple said. When Federico said he wasn't sure an extra 90 days would change anything, Temple argued that "you're not giving me the opportunity to look into the law books and what I need. … Why aren't you giving me that opportunity?"

Because, Federico said, "you haven't shown any aptitude to being able to do this to this point."

But in the end, Federico granted the delay anyway, saying he did not want to create an issue for appeals courts.

Temple is accused of killing his wife, Rosemary Christensen, and burying her in mosquito-infested woods along the Suwannee River in 1999. He was not arrested until 2008, after his girlfriend called police and said Temple was the killer.

Temple is not the first Tampa Bay defendant to act as a "pro se" attorney, meaning he wants to represent himself, without actually being a lawyer. In Hillsborough County earlier this year, Luis Munuzuri-Harris represented himself in part of a rape trial, and wound up with a conviction and a life sentence. In another Pinellas case, Anthony Edward Watson has indicated he may represent himself in sexual battery and robbery cases, despite having no law degree and a history of mental illness.

In the Temple case on Tuesday, Assistant State Attorney William Loughery acknowledged "there's some valid reasons the case could be continued because he clearly doesn't have a working knowledge of what goes on" in a court case.

The hearing got contentious at one point, when Temple suggested that the State Attorney's Office provided a television station with pictures of knives that might have been the murder weapons.

That prompted a sharp response from Loughery, who said, "We don't have any knives, he's just a moron about this stuff. If the knives came, they came to the Sheriff's Office, not to the State Attorney's Office."

Temple wrote a letter asking for more than two dozen documents and other items, but Loughery and Federico said many of them don't have anything to do with his case.

"A person that knows how to prepare the case would not prepare it in this fashion … but constitutionally, he's entitled to represent himself," Federico said.

Loughery suggested that Federico order a mental health evaluation for Temple so he couldn't claim later that he really wasn't mentally capable of representing himself. "His biggest goal is to create appellate issues," Loughery said.

Federico agreed Temple should be evaluated. And although Federico also agreed to delaying the trial, a new date has not been set.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or ckrueger@sptimes.com.

Pinellas man accused of murder wants to represents himself, but says he needs more time 03/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:30am]

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