CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man sentenced to prison for hiding evidence and concocting an alibi for machete-wielding home invaders who killed a woman and maimed her then 11-year-old daughter has been granted parole on one conviction but will not go free anytime soon.
The state parole board ruled Thursday that 22-year-old Autumn Savoy merited parole after serving the minimum 2½ years for hindering apprehension. He will remain behind bars and start serving another 2½-6-year-sentence May 14 on a second conviction for hindering prosecution.
Board Chairman Pierre Morin the board had little choice but to grant parole after Savoy served his minimum sentence because he completed all programs he was required to take behind bars, voluntarily took other classes and has had no disciplinary violations.
"We may not be overly happy about it, but the only thing we can do is grant Mr. Savoy parole," Morin said.
Savory admitted helping convicted killers Steven Spader and Christopher Gribble dump their bloody clothing in a river just hours after Kimberly Cates was hacked to death and 11-year-old Jaimie Cates was maimed in the Oct. 4, 2009 attacks in their Mont Vernon home. Savoy knew of the killers' plans to commit a burglary a week before the attacks, and the day before helped them research how to make chloroform in the event the occupants of the house they burglarized were home.
"Autumn Savoy could have prevented all this from happening," an emotional David Cates said, telling the board he relives his wife's horrific killing daily. He told them his wife and daughter — sleeping together in the master bedroom while he travelled on business — "wakened to the sound of these useless criminals towering over them, shining an iPod in their faces."
"Close your eyes for a moment and imagine just how scared they were as dozens of stabs and slashes were delivered with razor sharp knives to their helpless bodies," Cates said, his voice quavering. "I live with this image every day of my life."
Kimberly Cates was 42 when she was killed. David Cates broke down briefly when he told the board Kim's birthday was this week, and read to them what Jaimie, now 13, posted on her Facebook page Tuesday. She wrote in part, "I'll love you forever and always. You will always be in my life and will always be in my thoughts. Every time I think if you I feel the huge chunk in my heart that I've lost."
Savoy kept his head lowered and wiped his face several times as Cates spoke.
Savoy's mother, Katherine Savoy, opened her plea for mercy for her son by expressing her sorrow to the Cates' family, saying it is the first opportunity she's had to do so.
She said her son had made bad choices, but didn't know Spader, Gribble and two accomplices planned to kill. She said her son felt like he was "stuck between a rock and a hard place" when Spader and Gribble threatened to harm his family if he told anyone what they had done.
Savoy initially lied to police when questioned by state troopers the day after the home invasion, but within hours told them everything he knew and surrendered his cell phone and computer hard drive as evidence. He led investigators to the bags of bloodied clothing and items stolen from the Cates' home that were bobbing in the Nasuha River.
Cates had no comment after the hearing.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin, who prosecuted the home invasion cases, said, "From David Cates' perspective, no on in this case is every going to be punished enough." He said he and victim advocate Jennifer Hunt had prepared Cates for Thursday's outcome.
Spader and Gribble are both serving life sentences without possibility of parole. Two other young men at the Cates' home that night who did not participate in the attacks but were involved in the plotting that led to them — Billy Marks and Quinn Glover, both 20 — will not be eligible for parole for more than a decade. Marks is serving a 30-60-year sentence and Glover is serving 20-40 years.
Savoy is incarcerated at the Merrimack County House of Correction.