A Burlington County man was sentenced Friday to 25 years in state prison in the beating death of his 77-year-old mother.
Brian Templeton, 54, attacked his mother while she slept in the Edgewater Park apartment they shared, beating her in the head with a kitchen pan, prosecutors said. He then left her body for several days before putting it in a cedar chest that he placed in the backseat of his car, Assistant Prosecutor Robert Van Gilst said Friday during a virtual court hearing. Templeton later abandoned the car in the parking lot of the Willingboro pizza store where he worked, the prosecutor said.
After Doris Templeton’s death in October 2019, her friends wondered about her whereabouts and searched for her. Authorities later discovered her body in Templeton’s car. Templeton, who initially lied to police and said he did not know where his mother was, was charged with murder, desecration of human remains, and related offenses.
Under a negotiated deal, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office downgraded the murder charge to aggravated manslaughter, and Templeton pleaded guilty in August. He also admitted he had stolen his mother’s jewelry and sold it for drugs, the prosecutor said.
Under his sentence, Templeton will not be eligible for parole for at least 21 years. Prosecutors dropped other charges against him.
Templeton, who has been in custody since his arrest last year, expressed regret at Friday’s hearing for his actions.
“I do feel remorse,” he said. “She was the only person that I really had. … I was not in my right frame of mind. … I’m just sorry, embarrassed, ashamed.”
He said he recognized that, at his age, his sentence could mean that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Superior Court Judge Philip Haines, in accepting the plea deal, called the crime “a tragic event.”
“Mr. Templeton recognizes that, as well,” he said.
Defense lawyer Karen Thek said Templeton had minimal contacts with the criminal justice system and has described what happened as "if it’s all like a dream.”
Templeton lived with his mother at the Courtyard Apartments in Edgewater Park. They had been estranged, but she allowed him to move back in about two months before her slaying without knowing about his drug abuse, authorities said.
In court Friday, the prosecutor read a letter written by one of the victim’s friends. “I am heartbroken,” the woman wrote. “This was a friendship of nearly 35 years. … I feel angry that such a beautiful person was taken from me.”