- Steven Spader's mother Chris Spader, center, leaves court with unidentified family members after closing arguments in his trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
- A photograph of the Cates family is shown on a screen during the prosecution's closing arguments in Steven Spader's trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
- Steven Spader arrives in the courtroom for closing arguments in his trial Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire. Spader was convicted for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
- Steven Spader's mother Chris Spader, center, and unidentified family members leave court after closing arguments in his trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
- Members of Steven Spader's family leave court after closing arguments in his trial in Nashua, New Hampshire Monday, Nov. 8, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
Spader’s parents leave court with no comment
Steven W. and Christine Spader walked silent and grim-faced down the steps and out the door of the courthouse moments after Judge Gillian Abramson dismissed court for the day in their son’s trial.
None of their group, which included four unidentified adults and a young girl, spoke to reporters, not a surprising choice given the difficult circumstances.
Court reconvenes this morning at 9, with the jury expected to begin deliberations a bit later in the morning.
As coincidence has it, if the jury reaches its verdict before the end of today, defendant Steven Spader will learn his fate on his 19th birthday.
With lunchtime recess came a steady exodus from Courtroom 4 into the second-floor hallway, where Michelle Smith and friend Kaitlyn Rayburn sat and watched.
“It’s just awful, what they must be going through,” Smith said of David Cates, his family members and supporters who have accompanied him to court each day. “I’ve been following it on the news. … I just can’t imagine.”
Several Cates supporters hugged each other and David Cates; some shed tears, perhaps in relief that the worst of the grueling trial is over.
Cates, who sat bravely through even the most excruciating testimony, appeared emotional as his group re-formed and made its way downstairs and out the door past the media.
Smith was just catching her breath, she said, from a few minutes earlier, when she spotted a young girl in the hallway and promptly froze.
“I thought that might be the little girl,” Smith said, referring to survivor Jaimie Cates.
“I’m just as glad it isn’t,” she added, expressing relief that Jaimie didn’t have to sit through the vivid, emotional testimony recounting the terror she endured the morning of the home invasion.
Smith and Rayburn were there for an unrelated case in Courtroom 3.
Prosecutor Jeff Strelzin’s closing argument just passed the 1½-hour mark, which is roughly the amount of time that defense attorney Jonathan Cohen used for his closings.
Cohen began about 9:05 Monday morning and finished at 10:36. Strelzin began when court resumed after the morning recess, at roughly 10:50.
Strelzin told the jury that while they agreed to testify for the prosecution against Steven Spader, Quinn Glover and William Marks certainly don’t deserve any accolades.
Like Spader and Christopher Gribble, Strelzin said, Glover and Marks “aren’t heroes … and they’re not just criminals, they’re cowards … they let Gribble and Spader hack up a woman and her daughter … they’re despicable,” he said.
The reason the deals were made with Glover and Marks, Strelzin told the jury, was “because sometimes we have to make plea bargains to convict people who kill. Only by forcing open the conspiracy can we get all the information, all the details of what happened and get it to you,” he told the jury.
Glover and Marks, Strelzin submitted emphatically, “told the truth – eventually.”
As prosecutor Strelzin worked his way through his closing argument, the age-old question is beginning to float about: So just what is there to do in that variable, unpredictable space of time between the start of jury deliberations and the time it comes back with a verdict?
Take your pick: Leave to do errands or just stretch your legs, and you chance missing hearing the verdict live. You can sit in the hallway benches and read, chat or just stare out the window. In short, there’s no one way to wait for a jury; it’s all in how you pass the time.
In high-profile, lengthy trials such as the Spader trial, there’s usually more advance forewarning that the jury is coming back with the verdict, mostly because there are so many people connected with it, even aside from the spectators.
We trial-watchers are much more fortunate these days than were our forebears; what with the beauty of cell phones and text messaging, a group can rotate “designated verdict babysitters,” allowing the rest of the group to get outside for a while – but they need to remember not to go too far and remember to build in enough security check-in time upon re-arrival.
Several people believed to be family members, or supporters of Steven Spader, are sitting behind the defense table Monday morning. Some declined comment when approached, including whether, and in what way, they are connected to Spader.
Strelzin is characterizing Spader as “a killer ... and a coward ...” who orchestrated the attacks. “This didn’t just happen, he planned it ... all the talk was to psych himself up for (the attacks) ...”
The wooden benches lining the second-floor hallway look a little different Monday morning than they have for most of the Spader trial – there’s more than one person sitting in them.
As per standard procedure, the courtroom is secured – meaning nobody in or out – during the closing-argument phase of trials. The Spader trial is no exception.
Seven or eight people – half of them young women in their late teens or early 20s – patiently await their chance to enter, which, a court officer said, would happen if Judge Gillian Abramson elects to take a recess when defense attorney Jonathan Cohen completes his closing. She most likely will, court officers said. Up after Cohen will be one of the prosecutors – Lynne Carrillo, Jeff Strelzin or Peter Hinckley – to deliver their closing statements.
Table and chairs are hard to come by this morning in the increasingly active media center as the closing arguments begin in the Steven Spader trial at Hillsborough County Superior Court on Spring Street.
Not since the first two or three days of the sensational, emotional trial has there been such buzz in the first-floor de facto newsroom. The most recent arrival “from away” is the two-man team from the show “48 Hours,” which is planning a segment in the near future, the reporter said.
County Sheriff Jim Hardy is in the court Monday morning as well, checking in and touching base with his deputies and court officers who, he says, “have been doing a fantastic job … they’re handling everything very smoothly.”
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.