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  • photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble sits in the courtroom Monday, Feb 28, 2011 in Hillsborough County Superior Court as jury selection begins in his homicide trial.
  • photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble sits in the courtroom Monday, Feb 28, 2011 in Hillsborough County Superior Court as jury selection begins in his homicide trial.
  • photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble arrives in the courtroom Monday, Feb 28, 2011 in Hillsborough County Superior Court as jury selection begins in his homicide trial.
  • photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble arrives in the courtroom Monday, Feb 28, 2011 in Hillsborough County Superior Court as jury selection begins in his homicide trial.
  • photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble sits with his attorneys in the courtroom Monday, Feb 28, 2011 in Hillsborough County Superior Court as jury selection begins in his homicide trial.
  • photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble holds a felt-tip maker in the courtroom Monday, Feb 28, 2011 in Hillsborough County Superior Court as jury selection begins in his homicide trial.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gribble awaits jurors

NASHUA – Christopher Gribble’s insanity trial in the 2009 Mont Vernon home invasion and murder likely won’t start for at least two weeks, because it may take that long to find a jury.

Judge Gillian Abramson announced the new expected start date in Hillsborough County Superior Court on Monday morning as the jury selection process began.

The trial was tentatively set to begin next week, according to a court press release, but now it isn’t likely to begin until Monday, March 14.

Abramson said the trial is expected to last two weeks, followed by the jury’s deliberation and verdict.

The timeline is similar to Steven Spader’s first-degree murder trial last fall, as jury selection began on Oct. 13 and the trial ended Nov. 12 when Spader was convicted.

If Abramson’s expectation holds true, Gribble’s trial would end about March 28.

Gribble, 21, of Brookline, watched the jury selection from the defense table, alongside his lawyers. He wore a blue shirt, tie and khaki pants. His short hair did not have the bright dye that he has sometimes sported for his court appearances.

Several potential jurors glared at Gribble from across the room, but he never met their gaze.

He remained stoic and scribbled on a few sheets of paper with a large blue marker.

Gribble has admitted his role in the attack on Kimberly Cates and her then-11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, on Oct. 4, 2009, but is pleading innocent by reason of insanity.

He faces life in prison without parole if he is convicted of Cates’ murder and found to have been sane.

If the jury declares Gribble not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed to the secure psychiatric unit of the State Prison, where he would undergo review hearings every five years. He would not be released until a judge declares him to no longer be dangerous.

The jury selection process got off to a slow start Monday because bad weather conditions and multiple car accidents delayed many people from arriving at court on time. Abramson began reading instructions to potential jurors about 9:50 a.m., but the process was scheduled to start at 8:30.

Abramson read a long list of instructions and guidelines for the potential jurors followed by a series of specific questions. The process is known as general voir dire and is used to find biases or conflicts of interest among the large group of jurors called for service.

About 140 potential jurors packed into a room Monday, and another panel of about 130 is expected in court today. Prospective jurors who pass through the first screening are called back for individual interviews on the witness stand to answer questions from both the prosecution and defense.

Those interviews are scheduled to begin Wednesday and continue until 16 jurors have been seated, which could take several days.

Four of those 16 will be randomly chosen to be alternates but only after all evidence and final arguments are completed.

“It may seem long and involved, but you’d want nothing less for yourself,” Abramson told the crowd of potential jurors Monday.

“We must ensure qualified, fair, impartial jurors.”

Because the trial concerns an insanity plea, the defense will have the burden of proof, Abramson said. The defense will argue first in its attempt to convince the jury that Gribble was insane at the time of the attack.

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com.