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  • Christopher Gribble watches New Hampshire State Police Sargeant John Encarnacao walk to the witness stand Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 to testify in a hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire.(AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Staff photo by Don HImsel

    Christopher Gribble appeared in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua Monday, August 23 2010.
Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gribble argues prosecutors must be more polite

NASHUA - Having admitted that he helped hack Kimberly Cates to death, and attacked her then 11-year-old daughter with a small sword, Christopher Gribble wants to narrow the evidence allowed in his trial.

While his co-defendant, Stephen Spader, sought to limit photographs of their injuries, Gribble’s lawyers have asked to bar the prosecution from showing photographs of Kimberly or Jaimie Cates in life, before the Oct. 4, 2009, Mont Vernon home invasion and murder.

Gribble’s lawyers also have asked Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson to forbid prosecutors from glaring at Gribble as they stared at Spader, and to avoid using words such as “horror,” “slaughter,” and “killer.”

Gribble, 21, of Brookline, has admitted to taking part in the home invasion and murder, but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Spader, 19, of Brookline, was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole, and is appealing his conviction.

Gribble and his lawyers also argue that his trial should be moved out of Hillsborough County. Prosecutors object, and a hearing is scheduled Monday on that matter.

Gribble’s lawyers, public defenders Matthew Hill and Donna Brown, argue prosecutors ought be more dispassionate than they seemed in Spader’s trial, “where they were seen to be repeatedly glaring at and attempting to stare down the defendant,” the lawyers wrote.

“It is improper for a prosecutor to express an opinion as to the truth or falsity of the evidence, or express a personal opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant,” his lawyers wrote in a motion made public Tuesday on the state court Web site.

Gribble’s lawyers also argue that photographs showing Kimberly or Jaimie Cates before the attack have no bearing on his guilt or innocence, and shouldn’t be used as evidence in his trial. Photographs of their injuries are relevant, they concede.

Similarly, Gribble’s lawyers argue that justice and his Constitutional right to a fair trial and impartial jury are compromised when prosecutors use loaded words such as “horror” and “slaughter” to describe the horror of Cate’s slaughter, especially since Gribble has admitted to the crime.

Gribble spoke with police at length after his arrest, admitting his role and leading investigators to a wooded area where he and others had buried evidence, police said. Abramson heard evidence and arguments Dec. 6 on whether his statements can be used as evidence, but she has yet to rule on the matter.

- Andrew Wolfe