Victim's husband on stand in HN home invasion case

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 4:07 PM
Victim's husband on stand in HN home invasion case

A man whose wife was hacked to death and whose daughter was maimed during a home invasion glared from the witness stand Wednesday at the man prosecutors say struck his loved ones repeatedly with a machete.

During much of his half-hour of testimony, David Cates turned toward the jury and avoided eye contact with defendant Steven Spader, 18, of Brookline. He identified articles that were stolen from his home the night his wife was killed in the brutal machete-and-knife attack and their 11-year-old daughter was left for dead.

Asked by Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin if he gave Spader or anyone else permission to be in his home on Oct. 4, 2009, Cates faced Spader and said in a booming voice, "I did not." Strelzin then asked Cates if he gave Spader or anyone else permission to take items from his home. Cates glared at Spader and said firmly, "I did not."

Spader showed no expression as he stared back at Cates, his fingertips pressed together.

Spader is charged with killing Kimberly Cates and attempting to kill the Cates' daughter, Jaimie, in their Mont Vernon home. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges. The murder charge carries the penalty of life in prison without possibility of parole.

Defense attorneys say the state has no forensic evidence linking Spader to the crime and that the key witnesses against him _ three co-defendants _ cut deals to lessen their own sentences. A fourth co-defendant, Christopher Gribble, is scheduled to stand trial in February.

David Cates, an engineer with BAE Systems, testified Wednesday that he was in Maryland on business when the attacks occurred.

Cates said he used to go out of town for work about 26 times a year before the home invasion. Now he does not travel. Strelzin asked him why that was.

"Because Jaimie needs me there and I needed to be there with Jaimie," Cates said.

Cates said he rushed home after a trooper called him to tell him about the attacks. Jaimie, the Cates' only child, told police she survived by feigning death. After the intruders left the house, she called police.

Jurors saw photographs of a trail of blood leading from the master bedroom, where the attacks occurred, to the kitchen where Jaimie was found, covered in blood beside a telephone handset. Her wrenching 911 call, made in a mere whimper, was played for jurors on Tuesday.

A doctor testified Wednesday that Jaimie would have died of a punctured lung if she had lost consciousness before calling police.

Dr. David Mooney, a pediatric surgeon, said never in his 23 years of practice had he treated a child with as many stab and slash wounds as were inflicted on Jaimie.

Assailants cut off a portion of her left foot, punctured her lung, struck her in the face with enough force to break her jaw and split her head open, cracking her skull.

Prosecutors say Spader wielded the machete and Gribble used a knife.

Mooney testified on cross-examination that other objects, including an ax or Samurai sword, could have caused Jaimie's more severe wounds.

Jurors viewed police photographs of the master bedroom after Kimberly Cates' body had been removed. The photos showed a blood-saturated pillow and sheets on the bed, and numerous bloodstains on the floor. Large blotches were visible in front of the sliding glass doors, where authorities say Jaimie was flung by her assailants.

Jurors also were shown a number of items police seized from Gribble's car, including a hatchet, a coil of rope, garbage bags, a folding shovel still caked in dirt and a receipt for a knife purchased from a military store two days before the home invasion.

They also saw a pawn shop receipt for jewelry allegedly stolen from the Cates home. The receipt for $130.62, dated the day of the attacks, was made out to Gribble.