Trials & Litigation
Jury Convicts ‘Obsessed’ Ex-Client of Seeking Hit on N.H. Lawyer’s Wife
Posted Oct 1, 2008 5:06 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
In a videotape shown to jurors late last week, a former client of a prominent New Hampshire attorney tells an undercover officer that she wants the lawyer's wife dead.
But when she took the stand herself later in the week, 27-year-old Katherine Mendola blamed her boyfriend for allegedly putting her up to the conversation, reports WMUR, a CNN affiliate. Jurors apparently didn't buy into the blame game, however, convicting Mendola today of solicitation to murder concerning the wife of attorney Bartram "B.J." Branch, according to a subsequent article on the station's website.
In an article written when Mendola was arrested last year, the Concord Monitor reports that Mendola told her roommate that she wanted Wendy Branch dead so that she could continue a romantic relationship with her husband. The roommate reportedly played along, but informed state police, who helped arrange a meeting with an undercover officer that resulted in the videotape.
However, friends and family say there was no affair, although Mendola was "obsessed" with B.J. Branch, the newspaper article reports.
A partner of Backus Meyer Solomon & Branch, in Manchester, N.H., Branch expressed concern about his client's stability during the time that he represented her, reports the Associated Press in an article published at the time of Mendola'a arrest. Hence, he "arranged to only see her when others were present or, if no one was available, to only meet her in a conference room with the door open," his law firm explained in a written statement.
At least at the time of Mendola's arrest, Wendy Branch reportedly worked as a deputy clerk at Hillsborough County Superior Court.
When Mendola is sentenced, she could get as much as 30 years in prison.