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Staff file photo by Don Himsel

William Marks glances at Steven Spader during his testimony in Spader's trial last week.
Friday, November 12, 2010

Spader trial leaves lasting effects on those involved

Why? How could they?

If you watched or read anything about the Steven Spader trial over the past two weeks and can’t get those questions out of your head, take comfort: A man who has spent 40 years viewing some of the worst crime scenes and interviewing some of the most abominable criminals society has to offer is in the same boat.

Massachusetts defense attorney Robert Jubinville, who switched from State Police investigator to a law career 32 years ago and is currently representing Spader accomplice William Marks, said video and still photos taken at the Cates home after last year’s assaults and murder show “probably the worst crime scene I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“To think what went on in that room, what was happening to that little girl that night, all I could think was, ‘How? How can someone do that, unprovoked?’” Jubinville said this week.

Even beyond the images’ sickening content, which Jubinville said “I really couldn’t get out of my mind” for months, it’s the sheer pointlessness of the crime that keeps him up at night – the complete lack of any type of motive behind the perpetrators’ actions beyond an apparent desire to “get a rush” and relieve boredom.

“For me, after 32 years (representing clients involved in) 70 or 80 murders, the greater issue here is, why do (crimes) seem to keep getting worse, why do these young people keep committing these terrible crimes, often for no reason at all?” he said.

One pattern that appears to be emerging, Jubinville said, is the so-called Pied Piper syndrome.

“There’s usually a leader and two, three maybe four followers (behind) the crimes (characterized by) randomness and extreme cruelty,” he said. “There has to be some sort of answer to why these (young offenders) are willing to do such things to another human being.”

It was just over a year ago that Marks’ parents, acting on a referral, contacted Jubinville in the wake of the then-Souhegan High senior’s arrest in connection with the Oct. 4, 2009, crime.

While still in the process of acquiring his full New Hampshire certification, Jubinville said, he can represent Marks as long as he teams with a New Hampshire attorney, who in this case is Penacook lawyer “Scoop” Leahy.

The two followed the Spader trial closely, Jubinville said, accompanying Marks to court and watching from the gallery on the days their client testified against Spader.

Overall, Jubinville said, he has noticed his clients, especially the younger ones, becoming an increasingly rudderless, disinterested lot, “without any bearings, who just seem to drift around, either drop out of high school or just sit there not interested in anything.

“They do things as a group that they’d never do alone,” he said. The apparent rise in crimes in which that so-called ‘group mentality’ can be applied – this case is a good example, he said – is one of the factors Jubinville has been studying.

“It seems that in a group, these kids will do things like this. Look at this case, for instance, look at how many chances (Spader, Gribble, Glover and Marks) had to back out, to call the cops,” Jubinville said.

Marks, a timid, waifish youth, did make an attempt, albeit half-hearted, to at least postpone if not call off the Oct. 4 attacks.

“My client did text (Spader) that he was not ready to go that night,” Jubinville said. “That was his attempt, as feeble as it was, to at least stop it for that night, and then hope that maybe it won’t happen at all.”

But Spader would have none of it, court testimony showed, and responded that the crime was a go. Marks acquiesced.

Marks had come to fear Spader, his attorney said, and remained intimidated even after they were isolated from each other upon their arrests. It was still present when he took the stand to testify against Spader.

He said Marks began cooperating with police “the moment he was arrested,” later agreeing to a plea agreement similar to the one Quinn Glover entered with the state. While Glover’s has been accepted, though, a judge rejected Marks’ plea agreement.

“I don’t know why the judge wouldn’t (accept) the plea,” Jubinville said, adding that Marks and the state do have a cooperation agreement, in which prosecutors will drop the murder charge against Marks in exchange for his truthful testimony against Spader and Gribble.

Charges still pending against Marks include conspiracy to commit murder, which draws 15-30 years in prison; and conspiracy to commit burglary and accomplice to first-degree murder, each of which bring 7 ½-15 years, Jubinville said.

Jubinville said he and Marks’ co-counsel Leahy plan to accompany their client to court when he testifies against Christopher Gribble. Gribble’s faces the same charges as Spader; his trial begins in February 2011.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 31, or