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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Christopher Gribble testifies during his trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Christopher Gribble leaves the witness stand for the morning break after testifying Monday, March 15, 2011. Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie. (AP Photo/POOL/Don Himsel)
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    William Marks is escorted from the courtoom in Hillsborough County Superior Court Tuesday, March 15, 2011 after excersising his fifth amendment right on the stand. Christopher Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Christopher Gribble shows how he adjusted his grip on a knife as he attacked Jaimie Cates in October of 2009 during his testimony in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire Tuesday, March 15, 2011. (AP Photo/POOL/Don Himsel)
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Christoper Gribble testifies Tuesday afternoon March 15, 2011. Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie. (AP Photo/POOL/Don Himsel)
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    William Marks is escorted from the courtoom in Hillsborough County Superior Court Tuesday, March 15, 2011 after excersising his fifth amendment right on the stand. Christopher Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    A court security officer sits next to former Nashua alderman Fred Teeboom in the back row of the courtroom during Christopher Gribble's trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Christopher Gribble testifies during his trial in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    William Marks used his fifth amendment right on the stand Tuesday morning March 15, 2011. Christopher Gribble is on trail for his role in the 2009 murder in Mont Vernon New Hampshire of Kimberly Cates and injury of her young daughter Jaimie.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Christopher Gribble talks to his attorney Donna Brown after stepping down from the stand and returning to custody during Tuesday afternoon's session at Hillsborough Superior Court.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris


    Christopher Gribble listens as Prosecutor Jeff Strellzin objects to discussion during questioning during Tuesday's session at Hillsborough Superior Court.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gribble details night of killing, his feelings

NASHUA – Standing by the side of Kimberly Cates’ bed, shrouded in darkness, Christopher Gribble watched his friend start hacking away at the figures in the bed with a machete.

Gribble just went on instinct.

He could hear the huge, heavy blade thumping into the pillows and blankets. Someone started screaming. He found his own knife in his hand without realizing he had drawn it.

He reached into the mass of thrashing arms, legs and machete and started stabbing, calmly and with the same lack of emotion he showed talking about it more than a year later, and started stabbing at the figure in the bed in front of him.

Somehow, he knew exactly what to do, how to hold the knife, where to aim.

“I knew where to go for. I knew exactly where to stab,” Gribble said. “I knew where. I knew how. I knew what angle. Somehow I knew exactly where to stab.”

Jaimie Cates, then 11, got up on the other side of the bed, closest to Steven Spader and his machete, took a step and jumped into Gribble’s chest. He latched onto her with his left arm.

“I went for some kind of stab. I’m pretty sure it was a neck shot because I remember it being high, but I missed,” he said. “I remember at some point she said, ‘Why are you doing this?’”

He shifted his grip and stabbed her in the chest, once, twice, but somehow she started to pull away and crashed into a sliding glass door.

“I don’t remember throwing her. I remember having a grip and losing that grip,” Gribble said. “She did hit pretty hard.”

She knocked a metal stand nearby and it wobbled. Gribble remembers thinking that is going to make a lot of noise if it falls.

“I don’t remember thinking anything more about her after that,” Gribble said. “I didn’t pay her any more attention.”

When they were done, Spader looked like something out of a horror movie, Gribble said. He walked over and swung the machete overhand into Jaimie’s head.

“He was standing there panting and obviously, it looked like he was in a rage kind of thing, like he was completely out of control,” Gribble said. “I was controlled. I was very precise. I didn’t just jump in there haphazardly.”

For all of his precision and killer instinct, when the power was turned back on along with the lights, Kimberly and Jaimie were still alive.

Spader swung a few more times at Kimberly, Gribble said, mangling her left arm. That seemed interesting to Gribble.

“I actually saw the bone,” he said. “It was a curiosity, like, ‘Oh, that’s what a real bone looks like.’”

Spader put a pillow over Kimberly’s face, which Gribble removed and, with a killing stroke, stabbed her in the carotid artery. Jaimie, somehow, survived and later managed to crawl into the kitchen and call 911. Gribble’s friends later made fun of him for that, he said.

Gribble’s testimony took up the entire fourth day of his insanity trial. He has admitted to his role in the killing and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder and attempted murder. He will be on the stand again when testimony resumes today.

The aftermath of the attack was a nightmare. It looked like something from a television show, Gribble said.

“It was just like something they would have in a CSI episode. It was so cliché as to stick out in my mind,” he said. “There was blood all over the place. The adult, the mother was really badly hacked up. The girl was lying on the floor on her right side with her hair around her face. There was even little bloody footprints on the floor.”

Gribble said he didn’t feel anything after the attack except that a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He had been fantasizing for so long about killing his mother and holding back his “darker side” that it was a relief to have killed someone, he said.

“After that, when we were back in the car, I remember it was like a huge weight had been lifted. You feel so much better because it’s gone,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I needed to do that anymore. Kill somebody. That anger or that nastier side of me was quiet.”

Gribble had testified earlier about how he grieved a couple of years earlier when a close friend of his died. His lawyer, Donna Brown, asked him why there was a difference.

“I don’t know specifically why I didn’t have any feeling in that house. I just know that I didn’t,” he said. “The only thing I can figure is that I wasn’t connected to them, so it didn’t matter to me.”

Doctors from the Counseling Center of Nashua have testified that Gribble scored high on tests looking for sociopathic traits and that people who score that high would have trouble empathizing with other people or respecting rules and laws.

Gribble has testified in great detail about the years, days and hours leading up to the murder, including alleged abuse by his mother when he was young, gathering weapons and supplies before the attack and how the men pawned stolen jewelry and tried to dispose of evidence after.

In fact, his testimony was so detailed, and frequently off topic, that Judge Gillian Abramson twice sustained objections from Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin that Gribble wasn’t responding to Brown’s questions.

Gribble said he was amused by state troopers who interviewed him the next day, saying he saw through their attempts to play good cop/bad cop and said he seemed to be getting to them instead.

He made several comments during his testimony about how he was the strongest of the four men who broke into 4 Trow Road that night and was in the best shape, claiming he could bench press 300 pounds at the time. He mentioned what a good driver he is and how he wasn’t intimidated by police officers who pulled him over or the detectives who interviewed him.

He showed some disdain for other people, saying he didn’t like or trust Eldon Spikes, one of the people who were told about the murders the same day, because he was homeless and jobless and “mooched” off everyone else. Gribble testified earlier in the day about being unable to find a job and sleeping at a friend’s apartment after leaving home in 2008.

Before testimony began for the day, William Marks, another of the four men inside the Cates home that night, made a surprise appearance.

Marks asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to the defense’s plans to call him as a witness. The defense has asked Abramson to force the state to grant Marks immunity so he will have to testify, or dismiss the charges against Gribble, since Marks already testified in “exquisite detail” in Spader’s trial last year.

One of Marks’ attorneys, Peter “Scoop” Leahy, said he advised Marks to plead the fifth in light of his cooperation agreement with state prosecutors and after consulting with the attorney general’s office.

Defense attorney Matthew Hill said the state is trying to “hobble” the defendant and that they want to question Marks to show the jury how a legally sane person reacted to what happened at 4 Trow Road as opposed to Gribble, who they argue is mentally ill.

“We are hamstrung without the testimony from Mr. Marks,” Hill said.

Abramson’s order on the motion was not available by the end of the day Tuesday.

Gribble is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder and burglary, and witness tampering and faces life in prison without parole.

Gribble’s lawyers have told the jury that Gribble was struggling with anti-social personality disorder and caved in 2009 after his support system – family, church and Boy Scouts – gave way and he fell in with Steven Spader.

Spader was sentenced to life in prison after his trial last year on the same charges Gribble faces.

Gribble said Tuesday that after his girlfriend, Ashley Martin, broke up with him in September, he was devastated and gave up trying to control his darker urges.

“At that point in my life, it was like, fine, I don’t care anymore. It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “If the rest of my life is going to be that terrible anyway, why bother trying.”

He also talked about getting into an argument with his father on day in 2008 about how messy his bedroom was. Gribble walked into the woods near his house and tried to kill himself with a knife several times over a few hours but couldn’t bring himself to do it, he said.

His mother, Tamara Gribble, testified Monday that she found a “last will and testament” he wrote during that time.

On Monday, Gribble testified about how upset he got just being around his mother because she denies the abuse he alleges. He said Tuesday that the urges to hurt her came back “very much so” during his testimony. He controlled himself, he said, out of “simple respect to the people around me.”

“And I really don’t want to get shot running up to the witness stand,” he said. “It’s not an experience I look forward to.”

Gribble said he found ways over the years to control his violent urges, including music and fantasizing about hurting people who he felt had wronged him, or thinking about people he cares about who would be disappointed.

“It’s like, I’m boiling over. I have to find some way to slam a lid on it,” he said.

He said he asked his father to lock up the several guns in the house when he was a teenager because he “didn’t want to lose control.”

“At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to shoot myself or somebody else,” he said.

By pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Gribble forfeited his criminal trial and his lawyers must show his actions were the result of a mental disease or defect, or he will be found guilty.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

The other man in the Cates home that October morning, Quinn Glover, is expected to testify for the state, as is Autumn Savoy, a Hollis man who admitted to providing Gribble and Spader a false alibi and helping them dispose of evidence.

If a jury agrees Gribble’s actions were the result of a mental disease or defect, Abramson would then have to determine whether he is still dangerous.

If she decides he is no longer a danger, he would be released.

If she decides he is dangerous, Gribble would be committed to a psychiatric unit in the State Prison and be entitled to another hearing every five years to determine whether he still presents a danger.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com.