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Ex-husband accused of plotting wife's murder testifies it was all a sick joke

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

December 11. 2017 5:59PM
Maurice Temple is sworn in before taking the stand in his own defense Monday in Sullivan County Superior Court. (MEGHAN PIERCE/CORRESPONDENT)



NEWPORT — The Plainfield man accused of plotting to hire a man to kill his ex-wife took the stand in his conspiracy to commit murder trial Monday.

"You can't take anything he says seriously," Maurice Temple said of Mark Horne, the man allegedly paid to kill Jean Temple. "It's almost a sick joke."

Temple, 64, and his 83-year-old mother, Pauline Chase, both of Plainfield, were arrested July 27.

Last month, Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker ruled Chase is mentally incompetent to stand trial and dismissed the indictment against her. Chase was ordered to remain in custody for a 90-day mental health evaluation.

Horne, a volunteer firefighter and friend of Jean Temple, went to authorities after a June 25 conversation with Chase in which he told police she offered to pay him to kill Jean Temple. This followed Maurice Temple's arrest for non-payment of a court-ordered settlement of the couple's 1999 divorce.

Horne agreed to record conversations with the mother and son. Prosecutors allege Chase later gave Horne a $5,000 down payment and wrote an IOU for another $5,000 if the job was completed.

Jean Temple, ex-wife of murder-for-hire defendant Maurice Temple, is called to the witness stand by the defense on Monday. (MEGHAN PIERCE/CORRESPONDENT)

Temple said in court Monday that he considered the murder-for-hire topic to be a joke that has been going on between his mother and Horne for the past four to five years. 

"He's always prodding her about Jean," Temple said of Horne.

When Sullivan County Attorney Marc Hathaway cross-examined Temple he questioned him about a video-taped conversation in which Maurice Temple told Horne that Jean Temple had cash in her home and that he should rob it and burn it down. 

"I said she's got a ---load of money; burn the house down," Temple told Hathaway, claiming that Horne was always complaining about needing money and that he was just feeding into the joke.

"It's a sick joke that had a $5,000 punch line. But the real punch line was Jean dying," Hathaway said in his cross-examination Monday afternoon.

"If you say so," Temple said in response.

Temple said he was shocked when he saw his mother take out $5,000 to give to Horne, but didn't know what his mother was up to. She had paid back taxes for Horne in the past, Temple said. 

Temple's defense attorney, Donna Brown, made an unsuccessful motion to dismiss after the prosecution rested, saying there was no evidence that Temple had purposefully acted.

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in Sullivan County Superior Court.

mpierce@newstote.com


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