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''Swingers'' trial details threesomes and S&M | News

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''Swingers'' trial details threesomes and S&M
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Clearwater, Florida - It was one of the most well-known, unsolved murder mysteries in Pinellas County history.

Back in 1999, the case made headlines all over the Bay area as a Belleair real estate agent went missing. It read like a Hollywood movie script, a salacious story filled with sex, murder, and a life on the run.

Twelve years later, opening statements began in the "Swingers" trial at the Pinellas County Courthouse.

Robert Temple claims that he and his wife, Rosemary Christensen, had an open marriage and enjoyed having sex with other people, including a 22-year-old named Lesley Stewart.

Temple says Stewart stabbed his wife to death in 1999 and that they both buried Rosemary's body in North Florida on the property of Stewart's father, near the banks of the Suwannee River.

This case is making headlines again, not only because of the subject matter, but also because Temple is now representing himself at trial.

Temple admitted to potential jurors on Monday, "I am the dumbest person you'll ever meet when it comes to the law. I think it's crazy that I'm representing myself."

Temple claimed that his public defender, Mary Obermeyer, was not good enough to represent him and that she didn't know enough about the case.

"Judge, you leave me no choice. I have to represent myself," Temple said.

During opening statements Tuesday morning, prosecutor Bill Loughery called Temple "controlling, abusive, jealous." He said that Temple cheated on his wife with Stewart after he met the 22-year-old at a telemarketing company.

Loughery went on to describe Temple's life as sordid, having sex with other women in bathrooms, cheap motels, and cars. Temple claimed that his wife was "into it," but her friends said she would never accept that lifestyle.

Even Temple admits that his wife was like "Mary Poppins," but that she enjoyed a private life where she had sex with other women and was into S&M and bondage.

Temple said that his wife and his 22-year-old girlfriend had a "run-in" one night when he was out picking up some beer. He admits that he had invited Stewart over to his Belleair condo that night for sex.  He told jurors that his girlfriend liked beer, and he had gone to buy it for her.

"I'm a scotch drinker, but she likes beer," Temple said.

Temple gave details of the night his wife died, saying that he came home and saw Stewart standing outside with a "strange look on her face." He said that his girlfriend was pointing at the front door. Temple told jurors that Stewart stabbed his wife, and he found her dying in their bedroom.

"I found my wife on the floor and gave her mouth to mouth. I heard gurgling.  I wouldn't stop."

He said that Stewart told him to give up.  "She's dead, Robert. She's dead."

Temple claims that his wife died from her stab wounds after fighting with Stewart.

He maintains that his wife and girlfriend enjoyed a relationship that centered around sex and bondage. "They had a falling-out over slaves or something," Temple told jurors.

So, where did the murder weapon come from? Who owned it?

Temple claims that there was a Bowie knife that his wife kept under the bed.  He went on to say that she took it out on occasion when he would come home at night, thinking he could be a burglar.

So, why didn't the two call police the night Rosemary Christensen died? Temple's reason was that his girlfriend told him this was an accident. 

"Do you know what this looks like?" Temple claims that Stewart told him.  "I guess I didn't even realize it."

In fact, Temple told jurors that he didn't want this to look like a "Joey Buttafuoco thing," where his wife and girlfriend were fighting. He said they decided to bury his wife in a large Rubbermaid container in North Florida, but they never told anyone.

Back in 1999, everyone assumed that Rosemary Christensen was missing, but no one could find her. After that, Temple and Stewart went on the run, detectives say, for nearly a decade.

Before they took off, Stewart confided in local defense attorney Jay Hebert and told him everything. However, due to attorney-client privilege, Hebert could not divulge anything to investigators.

After being threatened for years, Lesley Stewart says she finally approached Hebert again in 2008 and told him it was time to go to the authorities and tell them everything.

All those years, Rosemary Christensen was buried in the Rubbermaid container in North Florida.  She was exhumed by Pinellas law enforcement in 2008.

"In 1999, there were lots of unanswered questions," Loughery said as he addressed members of the jury today.  "In 2008, those questions were answered."

On Tuesday afternoon, the state called some of Rosemary Christensen's friends from Century 21 to the stand. One of them said, "She deserved better, someone who would treat her well."

The star witness in this case is considered to be Lesley Stewart. Temple will get to cross-examine her.

He faces life in prison if convicted. 

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