CONCORD, N.H. – An 83-year-old woman accused of a failed murder-for-hire plot involving her son's ex-wife is not competent at this time to stand trial and is a danger to herself and others, a judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Brian Tucker dismissed the indictments for now against Pauline Chase, but will keep her in state custody temporarily so she can be evaluated for further treatment.
She and her 63-year-old son, Maurice Temple, have been jailed since July on $1 million bail each. They pleaded not guilty to criminal solicitation of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempt to commit murder.
Temple is expected to have a case status hearing on Dec. 12. A message seeking comment was left with his lawyer.
Tucker noted that in earlier video and audio recordings discussing the plot, Chase appeared lucid and "committed to causing the death of another." But he also noted that when Chase was last in court, she was excused during the hearing "because of her obvious confusion and disorientation."
He agreed with a state expert that Chase's cognitive decline is severe enough that she can't live safely independently.
A physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, designated by the state, will determine whether Chase qualifies for involuntary admission into the state mental health services system or other treatment.
Her public defender, Lauren, Breda, had disagreed that Chase was a danger and said her family offered to be her legal guardians. A message was left for her seeking comment.
Maurice and Jean Temple divorced in 2009 after 35 years of marriage and had disputes over money afterward, according to court documents. Maurice Temple was jailed in 2016 for failing to pay $51,000 he was ordered to pay in the divorce and again in June for not paying $20,000 in legal fees.
At a hearing in August, prosecutors played recordings of phone calls between Chase and the man they say she hired as a hit man. In one call, the man asked Chase if she's sure she wanted the woman dead. Chase responded, laughing, "Yes, that's right." Maurice Temple's lawyer has said Temple wasn't part of the plan until the hit man persuaded him to be.