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  • Jeff Strelzin points to Steven Spader as he sits at the defense table at the end of closing arguments in Spader's trial Monday, Nov 8, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Steven Spader arrives in courtroom 4 in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua Tuesday afternoon October 19, 2010.
  • Prosecutor Jeff Strelzin looks at defendant Steven Spader during closing arguments in Spader's trial Monday, Nov. 8, 2010 in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire. Spader is on trial for his role the murder of Kimberly Cates and attack on her daughter Jaimie in October of 2009. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
  • Jeff Strelzin points to Steven Spader as he sits at the defense table at the end of closing arguments in Spader's trial Monday, Nov 8, 2010. Spader is facing life in prison without parole for his role in the attack and killing. (AP Photo/Don Himsel)
Friday, December 31, 2010

1. Spader found guilty of murder

One of the year’s most powerful story lines played out in the region’s biggest city but had its foundations in one of its smallest towns.

Steven Spader was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus another 76 years to life, on Nov. 9, his 19th birthday. It was a year and a month after he armed himself with a machete and ruthlessly hacked to death 42-year-old Mont Vernon mother Kimberly Cates and inflicted life-threatening injuries on her then 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie Cates.

For many in Mont Vernon and Greater Nashua, the trial reopened all too well the wounds the crime inflicted in the fall of 2009. Many people said they avoided media coverage of the trial because it was too difficult to read and watch. Others took in every word as it happened through live video streaming on the Internet.

There was no dearth of gripping moments during the trial, particularly during the testimony of two of the three other men inside the Cates’ home that night: Quinn Glover and William Marks.

Marks said he saw the dim figure of Spader standing by the bed, and heard Kimberly Cates reassure her daughter and then both women’s cries and screams when the attack began.

Glover said he heard the attack but walked down the hallway, away from the bedroom, covering his ears. He said that minutes later, Spader came into the living room and seemed like he was on “an adrenaline rush.”

Jaimie, the now 12-year-old girl who survived the attack by playing dead, wasn’t called to testify, although she was on the prosecution’s witness list.

David Cates, Kimberly’s husband, testified on the third day of the trial. He was on the stand only briefly, and identified Kimberly and Jaimie’s jewelry boxes. David Cates was in the courtroom for virtually all of the trial, surrounded by friends and family. He left only for the trial’s last witness, deputy medical examiner Dr. Jennie Duval.

On Nov. 9, the jury returned with guilty verdicts for all of the charges against Spader. He didn’t seem to care.

Earlier in the day, a microphone picked him up asking his lawyers if they thought “the jury will sing Happy Birthday to me.” Through most of the trial, Spader displayed no emotion, usually sitting with his fingers steepled before him and often stretching and cracking his neck and knuckles, while police, former friends and fellow inmates testified.

It was the same while the jurors read their verdicts. He took a sip of water, yawned and mostly seemed to ignore them. He showed no further emotion when Judge Gillian Abramson finally got to give him a piece of her mind.

She revealed that she had admonished Spader three times during the trial, through his lawyers, about making threatening gestures to witnesses and prosecutors.

After sitting through 10 days of, at times, gut-wrenching testimony that included Kimberly Cates’ and Jaimie’s injuries and chilling testimony from Spader’s co-conspirators about just what happened before, during and after the murder, Abramson had stronger words for Spader than David Cates.

“I could go on for days and days about the depth of your depravity,” she said while sentencing the Brookline native. “You belong in a cage. And you should stay in that cage for the rest of your pointless life.”

David Cates didn’t speak Spader’s name.

“My only hope is that true justice will meet you,” he said.

– JOSEPH G. COTE