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Mother, Son Charged in Murder-for-Hire Plot Plead Not Guilty

  • Pauline Chase is escorted into Sullivan County Superior Court in Newport on Wednesday. Valley News photo



Valley News
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

A mother and son from Plainfield who are charged in connection with a murder-for-hire plot pleaded not guilty to the accusations on Wednesday during their joint arraignment and bail hearing in Sullivan Superior Court.

Judge Brian Tucker ordered Pauline Chase, 83, and Maurice Temple, 63, each to remain held on $1 million cash bail despite arguments from their defense attorneys to lower that amount. In his ruling, Tucker said he considered their flight risk, as well as the danger they pose to the plot’s alleged target, Jean Temple. Jean Temple is Maurice Temple’s ex-wife.

“I think the evidence that Mrs. Chase was fully invested in this endeavor is substantial. It may be less so with respect to Mr. Temple, but he did make statements ... that suggested, at least near the end, that he was on board with the idea,” Tucker said of his decision.

Chase and Temple each are charged with criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder. Both face maximum sentences of life in prison if convicted.

Police say the duo conspired to hire someone to kill Jean Temple.

Tucker’s ruling came after Chase’s defense attorney, Lauren Breda, raised several questions about her client’s competency to stand trial and Temple’s defense attorney, Donna Brown, cast doubt on her client’s alleged role.

The matter of Chase’s competency first was raised after Temple’s probable cause hearing last month, but few details were released at that time.

During her argument for reduced bail on Wednesday, Breda said Chase is “confused,” “disconnected from reality” and “forgetful,” things she attributed to possible signs of dementia. Breda said Chase’s confused state was evident in the secretly recorded conversations that are the state’s primary evidence in the case. Some of those recordings were played in court on Wednesday in support of Assistant Sullivan County Attorney Justin Hersh’s argument to keep high bail.

“Pauline is in no state of mind to have formed any sort of plan to kill anybody,” Breda said. “This all came at the prodding and encouragement of (police informant) Mark Horne.”

Breda also said Chase’s mental state has been worsening because she has been kept in “solitary confinement” since her July arrest.

“The isolation has had a bad effect on her,” Breda said, adding that her client had undergone part of her competency evaluation, but it couldn’t be completed because Chase became frustrated and started to fall asleep. Chase is slated for a competency hearing in the near future, at which time a judge will determine whether she is fit to stand trial in the case.

Breda didn’t say in court why Chase has been kept in “solitary confinement,” a place where inmates generally are sent as a means of punishment. She declined to comment after the hearing.

Reached by telephone on Wednesday, Sullivan County House of Corrections Superintendent David Berry said Chase hasn’t been held in solitary confinement, but has spent her nights in “medical observation” so nurses can keep an eye on her and tend to her needs. During the days, Chase is in a unit interacting with other inmates, he said.

“She has been cared for; my nursing stuff has done an amazing job,” Berry said.

Brown, Temple’s attorney, centered her bail argument on Temple’s alleged involvement — or lack thereof, she said — in the plot.

Brown accused Horne, the informant, of dragging Temple into the situation, which began to unfold in late June, when Horne learned that Maurice Temple had been arrested on contempt of court and other charges involving his divorce settlement with Jean Temple. Horne has known Chase for about 20 years and has been involved in real estate transactions with her.

Police said Horne called Chase shortly after to discuss Temple’s arrest, and that was when discussions allegedly surfaced about Chase’s desire to have Jean Temple killed.

Horne went to police with the information, and an officer had him wear a wire to capture video and audio recordings of conversations he had with Temple and Chase in which they both allegedly conspired to kill Jean Temple, at one point giving Horne a down payment, police and the prosecution contend.

“This is a crime that was manufactured by the police,” Brown said, “with the prodding and goading of Mr. Horne.”

Brown argued that police kept sending Horne back to speak with Chase and Temple because they didn’t have enough evidence to charge Temple in the case.

She also accused Horne of having a “grudge” against Temple and Chase stemming from a 1990s civil suit and a failed business attempt by Horne on a property near Temple and Chase’s Old County Road home.

Chase and Temple are scheduled to appear on Oct. 6 in the Newport courthouse.