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Jury Finds N.H. Man Not Guilty in Alleged Murder-for-Hire Case

  • Maurice Temple reads a document related to his divorce in Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H., on Dec. 11, 2017. Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway, right, had asked him to read the document aloud in court. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Maurice Temple, of Plainfield, N.H., has a moment with his attorney, Donna Brown, on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, after the jury came out with a not guilty verdict for Temple on charges of criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder at Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jean Temple, second from left, of Plainfield, N.H., sits with supporters on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, as the jury comes out with a verdict of not guilty for Maurice Temple, second from right, also of Plainfield, at Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H. The jury found Maurice Temple not guilty on charges of criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Maurice Temple, of Plainfield, N.H., looks toward the jury as they come down with a not guilty verdict on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, at Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport, N.H. The jury found Temple not guilty on charges of criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Newport — A Superior Court jury has acquitted Plainfield resident Maurice Temple on all charges in connection with allegations he plotted with his mother to have his ex-wife killed.

As darkness fell on Tuesday, Temple walked out of the front door of the Sullivan County courthouse a free man for the first time since his arrest on July 27. He had been held in jail on $1 million bail awaiting trial.

“It’s about time,” Temple said with a smile and a chuckle as he exited into a snowstorm wearing a light denim jacket.

He declined further comment, citing other pending legal matters.

Later on Tuesday, the foreman of the jury said jurors came to the conclusion that the supposed plot would have never materialized without Mark Horne, a police informant and the prosecution’s primary witness in the case.

It was Horne who called Temple’s mother, Pauline Chase, on June 25 after he learned her son had been arrested in connection with his divorce proceedings, and initiated a conversation about her former daughter-in-law, Jean Temple.

The conversations between Horne, Chase and eventually Maurice Temple — many of which were recorded — continued throughout June and July, and formed the foundation of the prosecution’s case.

“We focused mainly on the witness Mark Horne and his interactions with the defendant and his mother ... and how (Horne) just pursued it and continued to pursue it,” foreman John O’Connor, a Republican state representative from Claremont, said in an interview on Tuesday night. “It came down to entrapment, and that was basically it. We couldn’t get around that.”

“We felt that the mother was entrapped and therefore it extended to the son,” O’Connor added. “We felt that without Mark Horne’s actions there would have been no case, that these people didn’t seek out a hitman.”

O’Connor said he “didn’t want to get too deep” into the jury’s deliberations, which he called “civil” and “respectful.” Jurors deliberated for about three hours.

Maurice Temple sat motionless at the defense table as O’Connor read aloud three “not guilty” verdicts to charges of criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder. He turned and glanced at his attorney before returning his stare straight ahead in the direction of Judge Brian Tucker.

Jean Temple appeared stoic and promptly left the courtroom at the conclusion of the proceedings.

Horne, who had been in court earlier in the day and had attended most, if not all, of the hearings, wasn’t present when the verdict was read.

“Mr. Temple, you are free to go,” Tucker said shortly after the verdicts were returned.

Temple stood up and slowly exited the courtroom.

“(I am) relieved. Very relieved,” Temple’s defense attorney, Donna Brown, said afterward. “I was arguing that this was entrapment at the very first hearing, and I am very glad that the jury agreed with that.”

Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway said although prosecutors were “disappointed” with the outcome, they were “completely respectful of the decisions the jury has made.”

Maurice Temple’s niece, Jennifer Densmore, wept quietly as the verdict was read.

“I’m just thankful,” Densmore said after the hearing.

Initially, Temple was slated to return to the Sullivan County House of Corrections on Tuesday night and remain there pending a bail hearing in a separate criminal matter, his attorney said. Temple faces a misdemeanor resisting arrest charge from June in connection with his divorce proceedings.

However, the attorneys arranged a quick telephone conference with a district court judge, who reduced Temple’s bail to personal recognizance.

“We certainly have to give weight to the decision that was made here today,” Hathaway said of the decision to revisit Temple’s bail on the pending charges.

Tucker ordered Temple to have no contact with his ex-wife or Horne.

Brown, the defense attorney, acknowledged that Tuesday wasn’t Temple’s last day in a courtroom.

In addition to the resisting arrest charge, which is playing out in Newport District Court, he faces a civil lawsuit that Jean Temple brought against him and his mother in October.

“We still have a lot to do,” Brown said.

Chase also faced charges in connection with the alleged plot, but has been found not competent to stand trial. She remains incarcerated. A treatment evaluation to determine where she ultimately will reside is pending.

Chase’s public defender, Lauren Breda, said in an email that Tuesday’s verdict wouldn’t impact her client.

The defense rested its case early Tuesday morning.

In closing arguments, both Hathaway and Brown urged jurors to look closely at the audio and video recorded conversations between Horne, Chase and Temple.

They both said they would show different things.

Temple never said he wanted his ex-wife killed, according to Brown, and when Horne made comments alluding to a plot, Temple often responded in ways that showed he wasn’t taking the conversation seriously.

In addition, Chase could be heard expressing hesitation about Temple’s wishes to proceed with the plot, which Brown said supported Temple’s position that he didn’t want his ex-wife killed.

The fact that Temple didn’t outright say that he didn’t want Jean Temple killed “speaks volumes,” Hathaway told jurors.

Temple had several opportunities to say that he didn’t want his ex-wife killed, but he chose not to say explicitly that, Hathaway said.

“All we hear so far is ‘I don’t want to get caught,’ ” Hathaway said after replaying some of the video recordings to the jury.

Chase and Temple are angry and frustrated with Jean Temple, feelings that stem from the Temples’ divorce, and mother and son both have a “deep-seated, unhealthy dislike” for her, Hathaway said.

Brown contended that Horne had an “ax to grind” and worked with the police to entrap Temple. Temple wasn’t an initial focus in the alleged murder-for-hire plot, Plainfield Police Chief Phil Roberts testified on Monday. In some of the earlier tapes, Horne arrives at the Temple-Chase home and asks Chase where Temple is in an attempt to speak to him, Brown said.

“It’s like Where’s Waldo? but it’s where’s Maurice?” she said. “(Horne) wants to involve him in this.”

The attorneys pointed out several relationships and the inner workings of those relationships to show how they may or may not have impacted Temple and Chase’s thought processes, including the Temples’ heated divorce; Horne and Chase’s 1999 civil lawsuit over property; the demise of Horne’s horse boarding business after Temple told Horne he couldn’t use nearby land to expand the property; and Horne’s longtime friendship with Roberts, the police chief.

Temple took the stand in his own defense on Monday, testifying that he never intended to have Jean Temple killed and that he thought his mother and Horne’s conversations — some of which he was present for — were had in a joking manner.

“The state said (Mr. Horne was) courageous. If Mr. Horne isn’t the hero in this case, who is?” Brown asked jurors. “That’s the heroic thing to do ... to find Mr. Temple not guilty of all of these charges.”

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