New Hampshire machete murderer gets life sentence

Nineteen-year-old Steven Spader is convicted of killing a mother and severely wounding her 11-year-old daughter


Lynne Tuohy
November 10, 2010 12:23AM (UTC)

A New Hampshire teenager convicted of killing a mother and maiming her daughter with a machete has been sentenced to life in prison.

As required by law, the judge imposed the sentence Tuesday on 19-year-old Steven Spader after a jury found him guilty of all six charges he faced, including first-degree murder.

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Spader was the first person to go on trial in the October 2009 attacks that left Kimberly Cates dead and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, gravely wounded.

He showed no reaction as the verdicts were handed down.

During the two-week trial, defense attorney Jonathan Cohen assailed the credibility of three co-defendants who brokered plea deals and testified against Spader.

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THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) -- A teenager accused of killing a mother and wounding her daughter with a machete during a home invasion was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder and other charges.

Jurors deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning their verdict against Steven Spader, 19, of Brookline.

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Under New Hampshire law, the first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life without parole. Spader also was convicted of attempted murder and other felonies.

Spader was the first person to go on trial in the October 2009 attacks that left Kimberly Cates dead and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, gravely wounded.

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David Cates, who was traveling on business when his family was attacked in their Mont Vernon home, was expected to deliver a victim impact statement later Tuesday before Spader is sentenced.

Spader, whose birthday is Tuesday, showed no reaction to the verdicts. As the jurors were being polled individually on each of their six guilty verdicts, several glared at Spader and responded emphatically.

Spader's mother, Christine Spader, wept briefly; his father was stoic.

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Prosecutors say Spader wielded a machete and co-defendant Christopher Gribble used a knife during the attacks in the Cates' Mont Vernon home.

Jaimie, now 12, survived by pretending to be dead, then staggered, covered in blood, to a kitchen phone to call police. A doctor testified she would have died of a punctured lung if she had lost consciousness before summoning help.

Blows that cut off portions of Jaimie's left foot, split open her head and struck her face with enough force to break her jaw had to have come from a heavy and sharp weapon such as a machete, several doctors testified.

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During the trial, defense attorney Jonathan Cohen assailed the credibility of three co-defendants who brokered plea deals and testified against Spader. He suggested they, not Spader, were involved in the attacks.

The jury found Spader guilty of both premeditated murder and intentional murder during the commission of a burglary. It also found him guilty of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit both murder and burglary, and tampering with a witness.

Mont Vernon police Chief Kyle Aspinwall, who was present for much of the 11-day trial, said he was satisfied with the verdicts.

"It's been extraordinarily difficult for the town," Aspinwall said.

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Gribble is set to go on trial in February.


Lynne Tuohy

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