HOUSTON -- The plot reads like something borrowed from a pulpy murder mystery.
A judge squabbling with his ex-wife allegedly hatched a plan to kill her, then stage a boating accident to fake the deaths of himself and his new girlfriend, then run away with their children to New Zealand using false identities and forged passports.
That’s the bizarre story detailed in an affidavit signed by the former fiancé of Chris Dupuy, a suspended Galveston County court-at-law judge indicted for allegedly abusing his power by retaliating against an attorney representing his ex-wife.
The drama surrounding Dupuy that has rocked the Galveston County Courthouse for months climaxed last week with his indictment and suspension, but the most dramatic accusations against him surfaced in an unusual child custody hearing. The judge’s ex-wife, Adrienne Viterna, filed for an emergency protective order citing his former fiancé’s claim that Dupuy had outlined a plot to murder Viterna and take their children to New Zealand.
The former fiancé, Tara Compton, was expected to testify about the explosive allegations she made in her affidavit. But shortly after she took the stand, the visibly anxious witness blurted out that she didn’t want to testify.
“I just want to plead the Fifth,” she said. “I don’t want to do this,” citing what she described as “the safety of my daughter in my own custody case.”
She offered no further explanation and declined comment. Opposing attorneys said she’d clearly been intimidated out of testifying.
The curious incident might have ended there. But her signed affidavit, obtained by KHOU 11 News, offers some chilling details of the alleged murder for hire plot.
“His plan was to kill his ex-wife and make the children think their mother dead,” the affidavit says, claiming the judge planned to tell his children their mother had died in a car accident so that they wouldn’t try to contact her.
Compton claimed Dupuy planned to “get a ‘low life’” to kill his wife, then drive his two children, his fiancé and her daughter across the state, then use false passports to travel to New Zealand
“He planned on staging a boat accident and sink (sic) the boat that we were on so that it appeared we were missing or dead,” the affidavit says. “He was going to get us fake passports made up to get us out of the state. Christopher Dupuy stated he knew a man who could get us fake passports for $1000.00 each.”
Compton stated Dupuy sent her text messages saying “21 months until New Zealand. It’s not a dream to me. It’s going to happen.”
Dupuy’s attorney flatly denied the accusations of a murder for hire plot.
‘It’s absolutely baseless in fact,” said George Parnham, the lawyer representing Dupuy in his criminal case. It is simply an additional fireball thrown onto the pier to further inflame the people of Galveston County to rise up against Judge Dupuy. And there’s absolutely no evidence of that.”
The affidavit also says Dupuy bought a gun with a silencer. When the former fiance complained about a problem with her ex-husband, she claims. Dupuy said, “That’s why I got a gun. Wouldn’t it be nice to just walk up to his door with a ski mask and shoot him?’
Compton broke off the engagement, she claimed, after she found out she was dating another woman.
The ex-fiancé’s allegations are just the latest in a series of controversies that have erupted around Dupuy. A number of attorneys appearing in his court complained about bizarre behavior on the bench and launched an effort to remove him from office. Before his indictment, one of his fellow judges circulated an e-mail expressing concern that Dupuy might hurt for kill someone.
During the child custody hearing last week, Dupuy smiled and occasionally laughed out loud as his ex-wife testified about what she characterized as abusive behavior.
Dupuy claims the efforts to remove him from office stem from a bitter court house grudge that started when he blew the whistle on illegal activities in Galveston County’s family law system.
“He believes that it’s a political vendetta based on an action that he took that he thought was right and just and fair to the people of Galveston County,” Parnham said.