Thursday, December 18, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;39.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ovc.png;2014-12-18 18:44:38
pic1
pic2
pic3
pic4
pic5
pic6
pic7
pic8
pic9
pic10
pic11
pic12
pic13
pic14
pic15
pic16
  • Prosecutor Peter Hinckley shows Richard Gribble, father of Christopher Gribble, socks with the words "Gribble, C." during testimony in Steve Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Staff file photo by Don Himsel

    Kyle Fenton testifies in Steven Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Kyle Fenton, 24, pleaded guilty to three counts of felonious sexual assault and was sentenced to two to seven years in prison by Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles Temple on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • Handwriting expert Alan Robillard testifies Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 in Steven Spader's trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hamphsire. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Richard Gribble, father of Christopher Gribble, looks at his Boy Scout knife presented to him by prosecutor Peter Hinckley during testimony in Steve Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. The knife had been shown as evidence in the attack on Kimberly and Jaimie Cates in Mont Vernon in October of 2009. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • New Hampshire State Police investigator Steve Puckett shows the machete presented as evidence during testimony in Steve Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Richard Gribble, father of Christopher Gribble, during testimony in Steve Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • New Hampshire State Police investigator shows the machete and knife presented as evidence in Steven Spader during testimony in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Stephen Ostrowski of the New Hampshire State Police forensic laboratory testifies Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 in Steven Spader's trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hamphsire. Ostrowski was explaining how a machete could have caused damage to a motion detector cover in the Cates' Mont Vernon home. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Steven Spader sits in the courtroom during his trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Dr. Jennie Duval of the state's medical examiner's office describes wounds on Kimberly Cates during Steven Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Dr. Jennie Duval of the state's medical examiner's office describes a wound on Kimberly Cates body during Steven Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Dr. Jennie Duval of the state's medical examiner's office looks at diagrams of wounds on Kimberly Cates body during Steven Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Steven Spader sits in the courtroom during his trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Carol Fenton testifies during Steven Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. Spader is on trial for the second week for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
Friday, November 5, 2010

Final day of testimony in Spader trial

NASHUA – There was pain on Richard Gribble’s face. He told jurors that he searched his house for a machete and a knife he kept at home after he heard his son had been arrested. He didn’t find either.

He kept the machete on a top shelf in the back of his garage. The knife, he kept in the basement. He bought it at a Boy Scout camp when he was a teenager. It was emblazoned with a Boy Scouts logo.

Those are the weapons prosecutors say Richard Gribble’s son, Christopher Gribble and his friend Steven Spader used during an Oct. 4, 2009 home invasion that left Kimberly Cates dead and her daughter, Jaimie, fighting for her life.

Richard Gribble was on the stand during the ninth and final day of testimony in Spader’s first-degree murder trial. He identified the machete and knife prosecutors showed him as the ones that belonged to him. Police dug them out of the ground in the woods near the Gribble’s Brookline home the day after the murder, according the prosecutors.

Spader, charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, witness tampering, and conspiracy to murder and burglary, could be sent to prison for life without parole.

Christopher Gribble faces identical charges and may plead not guilty by reason of insanity at his trial in February. He told police in an interview after the attack that he and Spader are sociopaths.

Prosecutors didn’t ask Richard Gribble about his son or much about his relationship with Spader. He said Christopher Gribble used to drive Spader to classes at Nashua Community College and the two spent a lot of time together.

He said he saw his son a few times the day before the murder including that Saturday evening. Christopher Gribble told his father he was going to a birthday party that night, Richard Gribble said.

He said his son did not come home that night or the next. That was unusual and he did not know of another time his son had stayed out all night.

Richard Gribble said he looked for both blades after hearing that his son had been detained for questioning and could not find either of them.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys never asked questions that many in the community have wondered since the murder. Did the parents of the accused teenagers have any concerns about their children? Were the parents aware of any suspicious behavior?

The state rested its case on Thursday following graphic and detailed testimony from the woman who documented the nearly three dozen wounds Kimberly Cates lived through before bleeding to death last fall.

Dr. Jennie Duval, the state’s deputy medical examiner, was on the stand for more than an hour. She described each of the 32 stabs and slashes that covered 5 foot 1 inch, 102-pound Cates from head to thigh.

Senior assistant attorney general Jeff Strelzin rested for the state after Duval’s testimony, as did Spader’s defense attorneys without calling a single witness of their own.

Jaimie Cates, who was on the prosecution’s list of potential witnesses, never took the stand. Spader never took the stand in his own defense.

Gribble’s mother and both of Spader’s parents were on the state’s witness list but were not called. In fact, prosecutors didn’t call more than 20 of the people listed on the list of potential witnesses submitted to the court before the trial began.

Judge Gillian Abramson said closing arguments will begin Monday, after which the jury will start its deliberations.

Duval, who said she has conducted more than 3,000 autopsies, showed jurors a number of diagrams were she drew the general shape and size of Kimberly Cates wounds, including those to her head, face, torso, arms, hands and thighs. She pointed out some of the wounds on photographs that were shown only to the jury.

David Cates and a number of supporters spent the entire trial sitting behind prosecutors. Cates and his family and friends left the courtroom shortly after Duval took the stand.

Duval’s testimony described Kimberly Cates wounds from the top down, starting with two wounds that sliced into her skull and brain and another that sliced her jawbone.

Another was a slashing cut that peeled away the skin from her left arm and shaved a thin portion of her ulna, the inner arm bone, from wrist to elbow. Another blow completely severed the bone in her upper arm, Duval said.

Duval said those wounds would have had to be caused by a very long, very sharp and very heavy weapon, like a machete. A similar weapon would have been needed for four long but shallower wounds on her thigh, Duval said.

A machete could not have caused a number of other wounds, including those to Kimberly Cates’ neck, chest, abdomen and forearm, because they were too deep compared to how wide the wounds were on the surface, she said.

Duval said there were six wounds that were definitely caused by a larger weapon and nine wounds that it could not have caused. There were other, mostly superficial wounds, that a knife or machete could have caused, she said.

Duval said many of Kimberly Cates wounds were defensive injuries, including those to her hands, forearm and thigh. No single wound killed Kimberly Cates, though. She bled to death and was alive to feel all of the blows, Duval said.

“She died of all of these wounds causing bleeding and essentially exsanguinations, losing blood,” she said.

Duval told defense attorney Andrew Winters that she could not determine that the specific machete and knife prosecutors say Spader and Christopher Gribble used were the ones that caused Kimberly Cates’ wounds.

She said it was unlikely, but possible, that an axe or hatchet caused the wounds, because axes and hatchets are generally too blunt and their blades are too short and wide to make the clean cuts that distinguished Kimberly Cates’ wounds.

“Anything’s possible,” she said.

Any weapon that was sufficiently long, sharp and heavy could have caused the larger wounds on Kimberly Cates’ body. Spader’s defense attorneys have asked several witnesses, including co-conspirators Quinn Glover and William Marks, about weapons they had access too. Police found a samurai sword under Glover’s bed and Marks said he had a hatchet in Gribble’s car on the way to Mont Vernon. Both men said Spader went into the bedroom with a machete and that Gribble had a knife.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Jonathan Cohen accused Marks of having a bigger role in the home invasion and attack than he has admitted to.

Cohen pointed out that Marks was lowered into a basement window a half-hour before the others got into the house.

Marks said he thought the door into the house was locked but it turned out he was pushing or pulling it the wrong way. Spader let him out of the basement when the others managed to get into the house, he said.

Spader and Gribble went to Fenton’s house Sunday afternoon along with three other friends. Fenton said while they were talking in the driveway, Gribble told how the men had broken into the Cates home and attacked two people in the bedroom. Spader meanwhile added some comments and laughed “hysterically,” Fenton said.

“(Spader) said it looked like a Halloween movie,” Fenton said.

Fenton said Marks seemed upset that he was involved and said he had been scared because he had not broken into a house before.

“You could tell he really didn’t want anything to do with it and that he wasn’t happy with himself about being part of it,” Fenton said.

Fenton said he read about the murder online after Spader and Gribble left and told his mother not to let them in the house if they returned. Fenton’s mother, Carol Fenton, testified that she went to the Amherst Police Department the next morning and spoke with Chief Peter Lyon about what her son had told her.

David Mercer, a guard at Hillsborough County jail in Manchester, also testified. He said he seized a poem signed by Spader from another inmates cell on Oct. 7.

The poem begins “another toe is gone” and talks about going into a house, turning off the power and being “quiet as a mouse.” Assistant attorney general Peter Hinckley read the poem during his opening argument last week.

A handwriting expert and former FBI agent, Alan Robillard, testified and said he determined Spader wrote the poem and letters that detailed the home invasion and murder that another inmate and former city gang leader Chad Landry read to the jury on Wednesday.

He said he found definitively that Spader did write the letters and that two other inmates, whose handwriting he also examined, did not write any of them or the poem.

State Police Trooper Steve Puckett testified briefly about following Gribble into the woods near his house. He said Gribble showed police where he and Spader buried evidence and that police recovered a knife, machete, pearl necklace and iPod from a shallow hole.

Finally, another forensic expert, Stephen Ostrowski, testified that Richard Gribble’s Boy Scout knife was the knife that cut away a portion of an air condition screen at 4 Trow Road last fall. He said he also matched a piece of air conditioner screening together.

After the state rested, Winters asked Judge Gillian Abramson to dismiss all of the charges. Senior assistant attorney general Jeff Strelzin said just the letters Spader wrote in jail that Landry read yesterday were enough to prove all of the charges. Judge Gillian Abramson denied the motion.

Lawyers will meet with Abramson in chambers Friday morning to discuss the instructions she will give to jurors before they begin deliberations. Defense attorney Jonathan Cohen said Spader will not be in court so the discussions will not happen in open court.

Closing arguments will start Monday morning.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com.