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Judge Finds Probable Cause in Murder-for-Hire Case

  • Maurice Temple and Pauline Chase.

  • Mark Horne, of Plainfield, looks at Maurice Temple, left, while being questioned during a probable cause hearing in the alleged murder-for-hire case of Temple at Claremont District Court in Claremont, N.H., Thursday, August 10, 2017. Judge John Yazinski found probable cause to proceed with Temple's case in which it is alleged that he conspired with his mother to have his ex-wife killed. Horne cooperated with police to record conversations about the plan between Temple and his mother, Pauline Chase. Court officer Bruce Johnston is at back left. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Plainfield resident Mark Horne answers the questions of defense attorney Donna Brown during a probable cause hearing in Claremont District Court, Thursday, August 10, 2017, for Maurice Temple, who is charged with allegedly conspiring to murder his ex-wife Jean Temple. Horne cooperated with investigators to tape conversations between Temple and his mother Pauline Chase. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Claremont — A district court judge on Thursday found probable cause to proceed with a murder-for-hire case against a 63-year-old Plainfield man who allegedly conspired with his 83-year-old mother to have his ex-wife killed.

The lawyer for Maurice Temple argued that her client was not part of any conspiracy and had been set up by a police informant, whose secretly recorded conversations with Temple and his mother, Pauline Chase, are the prosecution’s primary evidence.

The informant, Plainfield resident Mark Horne, took the stand on Thursday in Claremont District Court and was questioned by defense attorney Donna Brown, who at one point suggested the entire murder-for-hire scheme was his doing because he reached out to Chase when he heard her son had some legal trouble related to his divorce from Jean Temple.

“I think it is very important for the court to consider today the evidence from Mr. Horne. As soon as he heard that Mr. Temple had been arrested, it was like an opportunity for him,” Brown said. “He got on the phone with this 83-year-old woman and he went to work. Got her going about the arrest, knew he could play on those emotions and got her into a state where she was so upset that she wanted something to happen to Jean Temple. It was all the making of Mr. Horne, who we also found out today is friends with Jean Temple.”

Maurice Temple and Chase are charged with criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder.

Chase’s public defender recently filed a motion for a competency hearing.

That motion, which is sealed, will lead to an evaluation and a court appearance, slated for Oct. 12. A judge would then determine whether she is fit to stand trial.

Thursday’s hearing marked the second half of Maurice Temple’s probable cause hearing.

It started on Monday, with Plainfield Police Paul Roberts testifying while prosecutors played the recorded conversations in an effort to demonstrate there is probable cause that Maurice Temple was in on the plot.

The hearing was continued when Justin Hersh, assistant Sullivan County prosecutor, objected to Brown’s attempt to have Horne also testify.

On Thursday, Judge Jack Yazinski ruled in favor of the defense, and Horne took the stand.

Brown asked Horne a series of questions about his relationship with Chase and Temple and why he believed Maurice Temple wanted to have his ex-wife killed.

Horne testified he has known Chase for 20 years, and he leased a property from her that he ended up buying.

Horne and his wife, Sandy, who live in Plainfield Village and have run a storage facility there, previously operated a horse farm called Rivers Edge Stables along Route 12A, which is across from a driveway leading to Temple and Chase’s Old County Road home. A 2003 real estate transaction indicates that the Hornes bought the property from Chase for $190,000.

Horne also testified about a conversation he said he had about three years ago with Chase and Temple about killing Jean Temple. He cited that alleged conversation as why he believed Temple was on board when the topic of murder came up again this summer.

Three years ago, “was he on board? ... Or was he somewhat reluctant?” Brown asked Horne.

“He didn’t say no, I guess that is the way I would define it,” Horne replied.

“Did he say yes?” Brown asked.

“No,” Horne replied.

Brown also asked Horne if he thought Chase was being serious or was joking when she allegedly told him that she wanted Jean Temple “to go down the river.”

That conversation took place after a June 25 party at which Horne learned that Maurice Temple was recently arrested on contempt of court charges involving his divorce settlement.

Horne testified that he called Chase soon after to discuss the arrest, and that was when discussions allegedly turned to Chase’s desire to have Jean Temple killed.

“She seemed pretty determined,” Horne told Brown.

Horne testified he went to the police that same day and with authorization from the Attorney General’s Office, police began recording Horne’s phone conversations with Chase and Temple soon after. In early and mid-July, police made several phone recordings and two video recordings, one in which Horne can be heard counting out the $5,000 Chase gave him at her home as the initial payment to kill Jean Temple, with another $5,000 to come after she was dead. Chase and Temple were arrested on July 27.

Hersh did not cross-examine Horne.

After roughly 30 minutes of questioning, Yazinski said he felt there was “evidence sufficient to find probable cause” to proceed with Temple’s case. His case will now be presented to a grand jury for possible indictments.

Following the probable cause ruling, Thursday’s hearing shifted to the topic of bail.

Both Temple and Chase are being held on $1 million, and the prosecution sought to have Temple held without bail.

Hersh cited a New Hampshire law that states “any person arrested for an offense punishable by up to life in prison, where the proof is evident or the presumption great, shall not be allowed bail.”

“I think the evidence that your honor has heard throughout this two-day process would be sufficient to meet that threshold,” Hersh said.

He pointed to the audio recordings where Temple talked about the how the murder would occur and how the remains would be disposed of, which Hersh argued showed his intent to conspire.

In one recording, he said, Horne can be heard discussing the money and availability of it, and Temple allegedly said that Jean Temple “possibly has a (expletive) load of money right in the (expletive) house. Make it look like a robbery. Burn the (expletive) place to the ground.”

“I think the presumption is great,” Hersh said.

Brown, conversely, said she was seeking to have Temple’s bail lowered.

The judge ultimately sided with the prosecution.

Brown said Hersh took the “burning this thing down” comment out of context and said it was just Temple “venting.” She accused Horne of egging on Chase and Temple, and said some of the recorded conversations show that Chase is reluctant to tell Temple about the alleged plot.

“I think entrapment is important here,” Brown said. “Mr. Horne persists. Mr. Horne, even though they have got Pauline Chase ... they are like what about Maurice? Is Maurice going to be there? Call me back when he is there, so I can come over when he is there. They are definitely trying to reel him in and make him part of something that it’s very clear that he didn’t want to be a part of. That is the definition of entrapment.”

Horne repeatedly shook his head in the back of the gallery.

Horne declined to comment after the hearing.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

Correction

Plainfield resident Pauline Chase, who is facing charges in an alleged murder-for-hire plot, has not waived her right to a probable cause hearing. An earlier version of this story was incorrect on that point. The 83-year-old Chase, who is being held on $1 million cash bail, is due in court on Oct. 12 for a hearing on her competency to stand trial.