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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    David Cates reads a statement supporting house bill 147 in Representatives Hall in the State House in Concord Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    David Cates, widower of the late Kimberly Cates, answers questions during Steven Spader's homicide trial Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010. Spader was sentenced to the maximum, life in prison without parole, for killing Kimberly Cates during a 2009 home invasion in Mont Vernon.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Video update: Cates testifies in support of expanding death penalty

P.M. UPDATE: Testifying in support of expanding capital punishment in New Hampshire to include murder committed during a home invasion. David Cates, widower of Kimberly Cates said:

“I do feel very strongly that capital punishment should be an option to the people of New Hampshire for those who commit murder while participating in a home invasion...

“If you need a reason to support this bill, close your eyes and remember the last moments of my wife’s life. Imagine her not knowing if her daughter, her best friend, was dead...

“My wife was very strong and a fighter, but I’m sure in the last moments of her life the thought of her daughter lying next to her dead was more than she could bare. And so she drifted off in the hopes of seeing her on the other side...

“The true issue is do we feel that the heinous crimes that occurred on Oct. 4 of 2009 warrant the most serious punishment. I most certainly do.”

Earlier story:

CONCORD – The widower of Kimberly Cates will testify in support of expanding the state’s death penalty to cover heinous home invasions like the one that took his wife and caused severe injuries to his daughter.

David Cates, of Mont Vernon, will make an appearance to support the death penalty bill of House Speaker William O’Brien, said Greg Moore, O’Brien’s policy director.

“The speaker said David Cates has reached out and said he would be there,” Moore said.

The hearing, scheduled for 10 a.m. today, has been moved to cavernous Representatives Hall, where the 400 members of the House sit, to accommodate an expected crowd.

The legislation, HB 147, would widen New Hampshire’s capital punishment law, which is limited to a fixed number of premeditated murders of police officers, judges and court personnel and murder while carrying out rape, kidnapping or a major drug deal.

O’Brien has proposed the law be named as a legal memorial for Kimberly Cates.

After the brutal slaying of Cates and stabbing of daughter Jaimie Cates, O’Brien tried to convince the House to take up the bill during the 2010 session.

The Democratic-led House, however, refused to admit the bill after it came in following a calendar deadline, and it quietly fizzled.

That isn’t what’s happening this time.

Three weeks ago, Gov. John Lynch announced he supported the concept of the bill to include home invasions as part of the capital murder law, as long as it was tightly defined.

Leaders in both political parties give this expansion effort a solid chance for success, given the Republican super-majorities in the Legislature the voters endorsed last November.

Last fall, David Cates testified he was away on business when the Oct. 4, 2009, murder took place, and had text messaged his family a few hours before the break-in.

Steven Spader, 19, was sentenced to life in prison, plus another 76 years to life, for breaking into the 4 Trow Road home and hacking Kimberly Cates to death with a machete. She was 42. Christopher Gribble, 21, has plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and his trial is to start later this month.

The most severe sentence either can face under existing state law is life in state prison without parole.

A commission that studied the death penalty for more than 18 months was led by retired Superior Court Chief Justice Walter Murphy. The panel voted last fall not to change the scope of the law’s definition.

No one has been executed in the state since 1939, but Michael “Stix” Addison is appealing his death sentence for the slaying of Manchester Patrolman Michael Briggs four years ago.

State Rep. Phil Greazzo, R-Manchester, has proposed to more dramatically expand the law to cover all first-degree murders. Even many death penalty supporters in the Legislature have remarked that the bill (HB 162) is too broad and that Lynch wouldn’t support it.

Kevin Landrigan can be reached at 321-7040 or