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Plainfield man still rebuilding his life 5 years after being cleared murder-for-hire plot

  • Working to finish Before the rain arrives, Maurice Temple compacts hardpack on his driveway at his Plainfield, N.H., home on Tuesday, Aug, 16, 2022. Temple, who is trying to put his life back together after being acquitted of murder-for-hire charges in 2017, said he plans to put his house on the market and move south to avoid stigma from his case. Recently, his two civil lawsuits alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment against the Plainfield police department, the informant and state law enforcement officials were dismissed by the judge in Sullivan County Superior Court. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • Sharron and Maurice temple prepare for dinner at their home in Plainfield, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. Maurice Temple is trying to put his life back together after being acquitted of murder-for-hire charges in 2017. Recently, his two civil lawsuits alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment against the Plainfield police department, the informant and state law enforcement officials were dismissed by the judge in Sullivan County Superior Court. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Working to finish before the rain arrives, Maurice Temple, of Plainfield, N.H., compacts hardpack on his driveway at home on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. Temple is trying to put his life back together after being acquitted of murder-for-hire charges in 2017. Recently, his two civil lawsuits alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment against the Plainfield police department, the informant and state law enforcement officials were dismissed by the judge in Sullivan County Superior Court. ( Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/18/2022 11:35:03 PM
Modified: 8/20/2022 3:18:17 PM

Five years after a jury took only three hours to acquit him of charges that he conspired to kill his ex-wife, Maurice Temple recently celebrated a sign that his life is returning to something like normal: He bought a bulldozer.

“Last weekend was the first excavating job I had since 2017,” Temple said on Monday from a lounge chair at his home in Plainfield, sliding glass doors exposing an expansive western view over a sloping yard, pond and barn above Route 12A.

The world was once simpler for Temple, a lifetime Plainfield resident who built up his own excavation and snow plowing business and owned of a small fleet of heavy equipment but whose business collapsed after he and his mother were arrested in 2017 and both charged by police with conspiring to kill Temple’s ex-wife.

Prosecutors built their cases around an informant who was feeding information to the Plainfield police department alleging that Temple’s mother and her son were conspiring to kill Temple’s ex-wife, but the jury quickly concluded that the informant — who defense attorneys said was motivated by animosity toward Temple’s mother stemming from an earlier brawl over a real estate deal — “entrapped” Temple and his mother in the alleged plot.

For Temple, 68. the years since the acquittal have included unexpected happiness late in life — he married a widowed Canaan woman who has steadfastly stood by him and who now also cares for Temple’s ailing 88-year-old mother, who is suffering from dementia — but also bitter disappointment.

“People say, ‘Oh, he’s been acquitted, but life goes on,’ ” said Sharron Temple, 65, a grandmother of 10 who married Temple in 2019. “Well, that’s not the case. He lost his business. He had to sell his equipment to pay for a lawyer. He didn’t work for a year.”

And even with the jury crushing the prosecution’s case, Temple knows there are still doubters out there.

“There are people who look at me sideways, like, did I have ‘something to do with it’? But everybody that knows me knows that this was a bad setup,” Temple said of the conspiracy charges.

Following his acquittal, Temple filed two civil lawsuits alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment against the Plainfield police department, the informant and state law enforcement officials. The two suits were consolidated but eventually dismissed, the judge concluding in an 12-page opinion last year that none of Temple’s claims had legal merit.

The experience through both the state’s criminal justice system and civil court has left Temple reluctantly reaching a wrenching decision to leave the community where he has lived and worked his entire life. He is readying for sale the 7-acre Plainfield home he and his father built by hand in 1975 and where he has lived for 47 years.

“I’ve got to get far away from this county,” Temple said. “When people won’t let you hold other people accountable, you got no other choice,”

He and Sharron are looking at moving “south, to the Carolinas, West Virginia maybe,” he said.

But Maurice Temple’s legal challenges are not over.

Five months after he and his mother, Pauline Chase, were charged in 2017, Temple’s ex-wife, Jean Temple, sued her ex-husband and her ex-mother-in-law, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy.

In turn, Maurice Temple and Chase sued Jean Temple back, claiming she “conspired” with the former Plainfield police chief and the informant to entrap Maurice Temple and his mother in hopes of financial gain through the award of damages.

The voluminous lawsuit and countersuit — now running to 123 separate filings and actions in the same docket — is finally set for trial next May, more than five years after it was originally filed.

“They just keep kicking it down the road,” Temple said.

Plain-speaking and at times gruff, Temple — his wife, Sharron, said most people pronounce his first name “Morris” — has the thick hands and muscular bearing of man who has spent a lifetime operating heavy equipment, working excavation sites and plowing snow. He says he often found the hired hands he employed as help not up to snuff, so he has worked alone.

For 19 years, Temple had contracts to plow the parking lots of the Walmart, Price Chopper and Thermal Dynamics in West Lebanon, but those jobs evaporated after he was charged. Nor could he get excavation jobs after he sold equipment to cover his legal fees and to pay off the loans he used to buy the equipment.

Maurice Temple’s and Sharron Temple’s lives came closer together not long after he was charged in 2017.

Over the preceding years, Temple had done work for Sharron and her husband, Michael Gareau, at their place in Canaan — putting in a septic system, clearing land, installing a water line to the barn — before Gareau died of cancer in early July 2017. Temple was scheduled to deliver a load of hay to Sharron Gareau for her horses later that month, but he was arrested before he could do it.

“He took the time while he was in jail dealing with all this to make sure one of his friends could bring the hay out to me, because he knew my life had just been turned upside-down with my husband’s passing,” Sharron Temple said, adding that the gesture made an abiding impression on her. “All Maurice is going through, and he was worried about my hay.”

Their friendship blossomed into a romantic relationship, and they married a couple years later.

Sharron Temple said she wasn’t dissuaded by Maurice’s past, which included two prior incarcerations in county jail on contempt for not paying fees owed to his ex-wife as part of the divorce decree and estrangement from family members.

“I knew what I was getting into. I knew it was going to be challenging,” Sharron Temple said, especially in taking on the role as the prime caretaker of her husband’s mother.

She describes Maurice as a “good husband and friend.”

“He’s caring, thoughtful, loving, trustworthy and reliable,” she said. “What he’s been through and is still going through is more than one person can manage. I’m here for him.”

Joining them at their home in Plainfield just over the Lebanon town line is Temple’s mother, Pauline Chase, who despite being at the center of the alleged conspiracy to kill her ex-daughter-in-law was found incompetent to stand trial and had been involuntarily committed to the state-run Glencliff Home for developmentally disabled people for more than two years.

The Temples petitioned to have Chase return to live with them at their home on Old County Road, where she’d previously lived with her son at the time of their arrest in 2017.

For the past four years, Temple had been driving a tractor-trailer rig for Kennebec Lumber Co. in Wentworth, N.H., hauling flatbed loads of pressure-treated wood to pallet makers in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. He traded in his Peterbilt truck for a Western Star, and last spring he bought a used bulldozer in hopes of picking up excavation work.

“The check is right there every week, so I can’t say I’m in real bad shape,” Temple said.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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