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Prosecutor calls Spader a 'coward' who ended brave woman's life

Posted by Metro Desk  November 8, 2010 03:24 PM

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NASHUA – With vivid photos of his alleged victims displayed nearby on a screen,  Steven Spader sat motionless today as a prosecutor described the 18-year-old as a remorseless killer who delighted in the machete murder of a Mont Vernon nurse and the maiming of her 11-year-old daughter.

“He’s a coward and a killer,” prosecutor Jeffery Strelzin said in closing arguments as he picked up the machete Spader allegedly wielded. “That’s how someone was able to pick this up and hack at a woman and her daughter.”

Spader, 18, of Brookline, N.H., sat in front of his parents as Strelzin showed 16 rapt jurors a photograph of Kimberly Cates, 42. The victim suffered 32 wounds on the night that the defendant and three other teenagers allegedly chose her home at random to rob and murder whoever was inside.

Her daughter, Jaimie, who also was hacked and stabbed, played dead in the early morning on Oct. 4, 2009, as Spader hit her one final time with his machete because he was “bored,” Strelzin said.

Jaimie was covered in blood when she called 911 despite a shattered jaw, punctured lung, broken arm, and a foot that had been sliced to pieces.

Spader allegedly was joined by Christopher Gribble, then 19, of Brookline, N.H., as they hacked at mother and daughter, who lay in the same bed.

“Kim fought with her bare hands,” Strelzin said. “She showed more strength and courage in that room on that morning than he will ever show in his entire life.”

David Cates, who had been away on business during the night of the attack in his home, sat stoically in the front row at Hillsborough County Superior Court during today's closing arguments.

Over 90 minutes, Strelzin outlined what he said was overwhelming evidence, most of it from letters the defendant wrote in prison, that Spader planned and carried out the crime for money and the perverse pleasure it brought him.

“All the hopes and dreams that Kim had for herself, her husband, David, and her daughter, Jaimie, were taken from her,” Strelzin said.

Defense attorneys, however, portrayed Spader’s co-conspirators as compulsive liars who shifted the blame in the brutal slaying after striking a deal with prosecutors.

“They must prove to you that Steven Spader committed the crimes for which he stands accused,” attorney Jonathan Cohen told the rapt jury. “Do you really know what happened in the house? Did they prove that to you?”

Contradictory testimony, a lack of DNA and fingerprint evidence, and a motivation by the co-conspirators to lessen their jail time erode the prosecution’s case, Cohen said. Quinn Glover, then 17, and William Marks, then 18, both of Amherst, testified against Spader during the trial and have pleaded guilty to entering the house.

"It is the quality, not quantity, of evidence,” Cohen said. “They know that they have not presented sufficient physical evidence to support their case.”

Cohen also urged jurors not to put any faith in his client's own words and writings. He said Spader, who formed a small group of renegade teenagers Spader dubbed the Disciples of Destruction, is a braggart who constantly lied about what he told friends was a  murderous life of crime.

“Saying sir after every answer does not make you respectful,” Cohen said of Glover, who testified that he heard screams and pleas for mercy after Spader and Gribble entered the Cates master bedroom with their weapons. “Can you really trust Quinn Glover? That’s what the prosecutors are asking you to do.”

About Marks, Cohen said, “I’m not going to go over every lie he told. There are just so many.”

The jury in the case was sent home today because of a "housekeeping matter," according to the Associated Press. Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson says instructions will be given to the jury at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Gribble is scheduled to face trial on first-degree murder charges next year. Marks is scheduled to be tried next year on murder conspiracy charges.

Autumn Savoy, then 19, of Hollis, did not participate in the assault but provided an alibi. He also pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified for the prosecution.

Originally published on the blog MetroDesk.

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