Kyron Templeton sat motionless, his future of life in prison sealed, as his victims’ family members told how his crime devastated their lives.
The long road to justice for that still unexplained crime — the Nov. 26, 2013, fatal stabbings of two people and the assault of three others at what was the Good Shepherd Ambulatory Surgical Center in Longview — ended Wednesday.
Templeton, 28, pleaded guilty before 124th District Judge Alfonso Charles and will serve twin life terms for the murders of nurse Gail Sandidge and Harris K. Teel, who was stabbed while he slept in the waiting area of the facility where his son was undergoing a procedure. Those life terms will run together.
Templeton also pleaded guilty and was handed two 20-year sentences for assaults on nurse Karen Bobo and visitor Teresa Allison.
Those are concurrent, running at the same time, but Charles ruled they won’t start until the life terms are complete. Life is considered 60 years in the Texas penal system.
Finally, a separate 20-year term also awaits if the life-plus-20-year sentence ever concludes, that for the third aggravated assault on visitor Melissa Sims. Templeton must serve half of all the terms — or 50 years total — before becoming eligible for parole.
After sentencing, a succession of Sandidge’s and Teel’s survivors described their loved ones and the impact the sudden murders left on their families.
“Two days later was going to be Thanksgiving Day,” Teel’s only daughter, Julie Teel Borders, told Templeton in a post-sentencing victim’s impact statement. “On that Thanksgiving in 2013, his first grandson, Cree, was going to announce the birth of Daddy’s first great-grandchild.”
Templeton had been at the surgical center with his mother, a surgery patient. Borders said investigators had shown hospital video to the family of the son and mother walking together.
“It looked like you care deeply about your mom,” she told the defendant. “But I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you brought into her life as a result of your actions that day. Your actions that day likely contributed to her demise. ... And none of it needed to happen.”
Teel died less than two weeks after he was attacked.
“You murdered my dad while he was sitting in a chair asleep,” son Harris Teel told Templeton of the assault, which occurred before 8 a.m. “You’re a coward, sir. I shouldn’t even use the word, sir.”
Sandidge’s sister, Debbie Sandifer, described the children and grandchildren who were left behind.
“My once-favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is now a struggle every year,” she said. “I pray for God’s forgiveness for you.”
Another of the nurse’s sisters, Tina Mason, confessed that her own anger frightened her.
“You scared me,” she told Templeton. “You scared me, because I scared myself because in my mind all I wanted was five minutes with you. ... It gives me peace that you cannot hurt anyone again, and I thank God.”
Templeton initially had been indicted on two capital murder charges, which would have carried a potential death penalty. Gregg County District Attorney Tom Watson, who took office in January, said he’d instead sought what’s called an information count on each of the two killings, which are felony murder charges.
He said his goal was to move along the more than five-year-old case.
Templeton’s route to Wednesday’s hearing was lengthened by questions of his mental competency to stand trial.
The police officer who arrested him wrote in a report that the suspect told him that “they” were trying to kill his mother.
In June 2016, the state was granted a psychological evaluation of the defendant’s competency to stand trial.
That report was given to the court Jan. 3, 2017, but three months later, Templeton told Charles that he was firing his court-appointed attorneys, Kevin Settle and Jason Cassel.
Templeton told Charles he was hiring someone named David Beckham, though no one in court knew an attorney with the famous soccer star’s name, and Templeton did not know where he practices law.
Charles told Templeton he was free to hire counsel but that Settle and Cassel would remain his defenders until he did. The two attorneys remained Templeton’s counsel through Wednesday’s hearing.
A competency hearing conducted subsequent to that exchange produced an agreement by both sides, on Aug. 8, 2017, that Templeton was incompetent.
That finding prevented a trial. It also included an order that Templeton be placed under the care of a psychiatrist who would prescribe psychotropic medicines to “begin the competency restoration process in the jail,” records show
In October 2017, Charles granted Templeton a trial delay, writing in the docket that he had no choice because Templeton had not undergone a “competency restoration program” to go along with the drugs he was prescribed.
Two months later, Charles noted Templeton was “still awaiting transfer to Vernon State Hospital.” He was declared mentally fit for trial in November.
Christus Good Shepherd Health System, which now owns Good Shepherd and its ambulatory surgery center, issued the following statement on the trial.
“The heartbreaking events of November 2013 made a tremendous impact on everyone at Christus Good Shepherd Health System and across East Texas. Though time has passed, our compassion and concern for the victims and their families remains steadfast. The strength and courage they have shown remains an inspiration to us all and reveals the true courage and character of this community.”