Murder-for-Hire Suspect Found Not Competent for Trial

  • Pauline Chase enters the courtroom at the hand of a bailiff for her arraignment and bail hearing in Sullivan Superior Court in Newport, N.H., on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (Valley News - Jordan Cuddemi) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Pauline Chase

Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, November 30, 2017

Newport — An 83-year-old Plainfield woman accused in a murder-for-hire plot has been found not competent to stand trial on charges that she conspired to kill her son’s ex-wife.

Sullivan Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker ruled on Thursday that Pauline Chase is “not presently competent to stand trial” and “there is no reasonable likelihood” that she can be restored to competency within 12 months, a statutory requirement.

Alluding to an examiner’s testimony that Chase is showing signs of dementia, Tucker’s three-page ruling noted that Chase’s condition “leaves her confused, disoriented and unaware of events around her.”

As a result, the charges against Chase, which were filed in July, have been dismissed without prejudice. Chase faced three felony charges: criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder.

Tucker found that Chase could be dangerous to her self or others, and stipulated that she remain in the custody of the corrections department and undergo a treatment evaluation. That evaluation can take up to 90 days and will be taken into account in determining whether Chase should be ordered to undergo involuntary treatment.

Chase’s son, 64-year-old Maurice Temple, also faces charges in connection with the alleged murder-for-hire plot. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled for December.

Police say the mother and son conspired to hire a Plainfield man to kill Maurice Temple’s ex-wife, Jean Temple, who has since filed a civil lawsuit against Chase and Maurice Temple.

The Plainfield man, Mark Horne, cooperated with authorities and helped police tape conversations with Chase and Maurice Temple.

One of those recordings captured Chase allegedly counting out a down payment to Horne in exchange for killing Jean Temple.

“The defendant appeared lucid and committed to causing the death of another,” Tucker wrote.

But he also made note of Chase’s state of mind during her last hearing in Sullivan Superior Court in November.

She had to be excused because of her “obvious confusion and disorientation,” Tucker wrote.

Dr. Jennifer Mayer Cox, a forensic examiner, interviewed Chase several times for a total of about four hours, and concluded that Chase wasn’t competent to stand trial and that her “cognitive deficits are so severe that she cannot safely live independently.”

Tucker concurred with Cox’s findings, and thus ordered Chase to undergo a treatment evaluation.

Sullivan County Attorney Mark Hathaway declined to comment on Tucker’s ruling other than to say it “is well considered.”

He also declined to comment on whether the ruling will affect the prosecution’s case against Maurice Temple.

Messages left for Chase’s public defender, Lauren Breda, as well as Maurice Temple’s attorney, Donna Brown, weren’t returned by deadline.

Brown has argued that Temple and Chase wouldn’t have found themselves accused of these crimes had it not been for the “prodding” of Horne, who is friends with Jean Temple and called Chase after a party in June when he heard her son had some legal trouble related to his divorce from Jean Temple. He had recently been arrested on contempt of court charges.

It was after that phone call that Chase and Temple allegedly conspired to kill Jean Temple.

“It was all the making of Mr. Horne,” Brown said at a probable cause hearing in August.

Horne and his wife, Sandy, who live in Plainfield Village, 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.

The Hornes, who own multiple properties in Lebanon in addition to their holdings in Plainfield, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

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