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Fellow inmate says Spader bragged about killing

By Staff | Nov 4, 2010

NASHUA – Chad Landry is no saint. He said as much on the stand during Steven Spader’s murder trial, but he knows an opportunity when he sees one.

Landry read several letters on the stand Wednesday that he says Spader wrote him in jail detailing the murder of Kimberly Cates last fall.

“So when the attack happened, I came from the right to the right side of the bed. Gribble’s to the left. I wasn’t aware of the little girl.

“I figured it was the dad,” Spader wrote in the letters. “I dealt with the woman 36 times.”

Landry was the last witness on Wednesday. Spader and the former Folk Nation member spent 22 hours a day in side-by-side maximum-security cells for about a month last winter at the Hillsborough County jail in Manchester.

In his testimony, Landry appeared to look over at Spader several times and stare for several seconds before returning his attention to the attorney questioning him. Other witnesses, including William Marks, Quinn Glover and Autumn Savoy barely looked at Spader unless they had to.

Inmates look down on and are “disgusted” by other prisoners who are accused of hurting little kids, Landry said, and Spader and Gribble were harassed and teased in jail because of their charges.

Landry said he befriended Spader and goaded him by making fun of Gribble, which Spader did frequently. When Spader wrote the letters detailing the murder, Landry said he contacted prosecutors in order to get time knocked off his own assault sentence.

Landry said Spader simultaneously craved attention and wanted protection from the other inmates who were harassing him.

In the first letter Landry read in court Wednesday, Spader called himself “the most sick and twisted person you will ever meet.” He said he found torture “highly enjoyable” and bragged about knowing how to torture someone in a number of ways.

“Death doesn’t frighten me. Blood excites me,” he wrote.

Another letter explained how he wanted to start a “crew” or brotherhood and set up the Oct. 4, 2009, home invasion as a test to see if his friends had the guts to do it.

Two later letters went into great detail about how the four men – Spader, Christopher Gribble, William Marks and Quinn Glover – met up, changed clothes and went to Mont Vernon that night. They talk about getting into the house, how Spader used an iPod to light his way and how he eventually ended up next to Kimberly and Jaimie Cates’ bed.

In the letters, Spader wrote that Kimberly Cates called out to her daughter Jaimie, and then reached for a light. Spader started swinging the machete and Gribble attacked Jaimie, 11 at the time, when she leapt off the bed and into his arms, Spader wrote.

“Gribble did her in,” he wrote.

Landry said he was in jail for a November 2009 assault in Nashua and was facing a maximum 23 years in prison on two assault charges and a probation violation.

Landry received a one-year jail sentence, three years of probation and must pay restitution per the terms of the agreement, he said. He was identified as the leader of the Folk gang in Nashua when he was arrested in 2008 following a gang brawl.

Spader’s first letters, or kites, as inmates call the notes they pass back and forth between cells, didn’t pertain to the murder and Landry said he flushed them down the toilet. He kept flushing the toilet after reading the later letters to make Spader think he destroyed them, but saved them instead. One he sent to prosecutors and the others to his lawyer to bargain with later, he said.

The letters include a number of things not released to the media or in court documents, including gruesome details about the injuries to Kimberly Cates, and where the men changed clothes before and after the murder.

Landry said Spader called the last two letters “bedtime stories” and he wrote “The End” at the finish of both of them.

The fifth letter Landry read Wednesday began with, “So begins the tale of the Mont Vernon murder by Steven A. Spader.”

Spader also wrote in the letters about his “adrenaline rush” after the murder, which others have testified about.

“The girl was on the ground. I didn’t notice her all that much. It was such an adrenaline rush,” he wrote. “I almost hit Gribble with the machete. He said I looked crazy.”

Landry said Spader used to talk about his legacy and that he would be able to make money from his name and what happened in Mont Vernon.

Landry said he and Spader read the Telegraph and that Spader was angry when the paper spelled his first name incorrectly. He also seemed “heartbroken” when he read a story about Glover pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors, Landry said.

During his cross-examination, defense attorney Jonathan Cohen pressed Landry on whether he manipulated Spader into writing the letters and taking credit, or blame, for the murder.

Spader loved the attention as much as or more than any person he ever met and would say many things that were not true for effect, Landry said.

Landry also admitted writing part of a song or poem that Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley read during his opening argument, including parts about going into the house and turning off the power.

Spader wrote other portions of the poem, Landry said.

Landry was upfront that he saved the letters and talked to Spader in hopes of effecting an early release for himself.

“An opportunity came my way and I took it,” he said.

He also said telling the truth in court is a vital part of his deal with prosecutors.

“If I don’t tell the truth, I don’t get home,” he said.

One of the men inside the Cates Trow Road home during the attack, Marks, finished his testimony Wednesday morning. Cohen finished walking him through two police interviews and Marks admitted to a long list of lies and story changes he first told police.

Marks also said he talked to his father, James Marks, in mid-November about ways to get a better deal by giving prosecutors more information, like Spader joking about wanting to murder people.

On Tuesday, Marks said he and his father discussed selling his information to national media outlets because they would pay more for it than local outlets.

Like Landry, Marks also said Spader used to brag about a lot of things, like having killed before and being in gangs, and that no one took him seriously.

Eventually, Cohen accused Marks of having a much larger role in the attack than he has admitted to. He pointed out that Marks was in the house alone for as much as 30 minutes after being dropped into the basement and getting trapped.

“You did a lot more than you’re telling us, didn’t you, Billy?” Cohen said.

He maintained that he was not lying about not touching Kimberly or Jaimie Cates.

Three acquaintances of Spader, including his ex-girlfriend, also testified Wednesday.

Jillian Baptist, an 18-year-old Amherst resident, said she was “sort of” in a relationship with Spader in the month before the home invasion. She said she went to a Bishop Guertin football game with him and other friends on Oct. 3, 2009 and to the Pheasant Lane Mall the next day where he and Gribble pawned some jewelry.

Baptist said Spader showed her a machete while they were driving in Gribble’s car that day and that he and Gribble joked about a spot of blood on the sheathe being from World War I and about whipping each other with the machete. Gribble told her it was an inside joke, she said.

Baptist said Spader tried to meet with her on Sunday after she got two phone calls about the murder. She said she asked him if he was involved and Spader told her he did not want to talk on the phone in case the calls were traced, she said.

“No, he didn’t deny it,” she said.

She said she did not meet with him. She read a letter Spader wrote to her from jail in which he said he hoped she did not think negatively of him.

Christy Michaud testified about buying a necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings from Gribble at the Cash for Gold kiosk she worked at inside the Pheasant Lane Mall. She said she had met Spader a couple of years ago and had met Gribble once before that transaction.

Another friend, Jenna McInnis, a senior at Bishop Guertin High School, said she was also with Spader at the football game and the trip to the mall. She said she heard Spader and Gribble joking about the machete in Gribble’s car but did not see it because she was in the back seat.

Amherst police officer Nate Berry testified about pulling over Gribble, Spader, McInnis and Baptist on Oct. 4 near the Amherst Wal-Mart and letting them go shortly after. He said Spader seemed angry that the officer pulled them over because a burglary was reported in the area earlier.

Finally, Adam Bishop, a security guard at the mall, testified briefly about the security footage he gave to police that showed Spader and Gribble in the mall on Oct. 4 on the escalators and at the Cash for Gold kiosk. Nashua police Detective Michael Boulay testified briefly about his role collecting the footage along with the jewelry pawned at the kiosk.

Kimberly Cates’ mother, Lynette Piasecki, testified for a few minutes and identified one the bracelets pawned at the mall as one Kimberly had given her several years ago. She had given it back to Kimberly this summer to save for Jaimie, she said.

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

Wednesday was the eighth day of testimony. The trial will continue this morning and could last all next week.

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

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