Witnesses: NH home invasion suspect was 'creepy'

AP News
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Posted: Mar 17, 2011 6:09 PM
Witnesses: NH home invasion suspect was 'creepy'

The word "creepy" was used by two defense witnesses Thursday to describe the behavior of a man who has admitted being part of a deadly knife and machete attack on a woman and her 11-year-old daughter.

Christopher Gribble has acknowledged his role in the killing of Kimberly Cates and the maiming of her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, in an October 2009 home invasion in Mont Vernon, but he's asking a jury to rule he was insane.

Gribble's father, Richard, testified that his son struggled to see other people's points of view and would twist events to defend his positions. The elder Gribble, a software engineer, said he and his wife raised their son in the Mormon faith.

Aside from raising their voices on occasion, they did not abuse him physically or emotionally, he said, contradicting earlier testimony from his son.

Asked if his efforts to instill good values had been successful, Richard Gribble's voice fell. Given the crimes his son had confessed to, "I would have to say no, they were not," he said softly.

Gribble and others who testified Thursday agreed that Christopher Gribble was awkward in many social situations.

"He's eloquent. He knows how to speak well," Richard Gribble said. "But he's not good at recognizing when someone wants to end the conversation."

Jillian Baptist, the former girlfriend of co-conspirator Steven Spader, said she used to call Gribble "Creepy Chris."

She said Gribble had tried to flirt with her and another girl and didn't immediately get the message that the flirting was unwelcome.

Ramona Burgess, a mother of three who took Gribble in after he temporarily left his family home in early 2009, said he lacked social skills, came across as too intense and had to be told to leave the room when she was doing a dress fitting for a young woman.

Although Gribble left the room and later thanked her for explaining that it was inappropriate for him to stay, Burgess said, "The whole thing was just a little creepy."

Prosecutors returned repeatedly to Gribble's ability to follow rules when he wanted to and to control his feelings of anger against his mother and others.

"He could demonstrate an emotion _ gratitude," Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said, getting confirmation from Burgess.

He could also demonstrate disappointment, said Autumn Savoy, who's in prison for helping Gribble and Spader get rid of their blood-soaked clothes and providing a false alibi to police.

Gribble was upset when he learned through news reports that Jaimie Cates had survived the stabbing, Savoy testified Thursday.

"He said he was depressed he didn't kill the little girl?" prosecutor Lucy Carillo asked.

"He did," the 21-year-old Savoy said.

The defense brought its arguments to a close Thursday. Prosecutors expected to begin making their case Monday.

Spader, who wielded the machete during the attacks, was convicted in November and is serving two life sentences without possibility of parole.