NH killer apologizes to machete victim's family

AP News
Posted: Apr 22, 2013 2:01 PM
NH killer apologizes to machete victim's family

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A man convicted of hacking a woman to death with a machete and maiming her daughter during a home invasion has ordered his lawyers not to argue for a reduced sentence, and said in a statement Monday that he doesn't deserve or expect forgiveness.

Steven Spader was a month shy of his 18th birthday when he orchestrated the home invasion in Mont Vernon Oct. 4, 2009, in which Kimberly Cates was killed and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, was hacked and stabbed to near death. Their husband and father David Cates was on a business trip to Maryland at the time.

Spader, who bragged about the attacks vocally and in letters from jail, through his lawyers Monday apologized to the Cates family in a statement David Cates found "insulting," according to prosecutor Jeffery Strelzin.

"Through my impulsive actions, I have torn apart families and ruined lives," said the statement by Steven Spader, which was read by his lawyer. "I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused you. I do not expect forgiveness, nor do I deserve any." He waived his right to be in court Monday.

Spader received a mandatory life sentence with no chance for parole

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for those under age 18 when the crime was committed amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. In the 5-4 ruling, the justices said the trial judge must weigh the convict's age, maturity and any mitigating factors before sentencing.

Spader was convicted and sentenced on his 19th birthday in November 2010.

Spader's lawyers said he has forbidden them from submitting any evidence in a bid for a reduced sentence.

"I choose not to slip by on some technicality," Spader's statement said. "Instead I choose to accept responsibility for my actions."

David and Jaimie Cates were in court Monday, accompanied by about a dozen family members and friends. They declined to address the court or comment as they left court.

"David and Jaime wish only to heal and move forward," said Christopher Lussier, family friend and chairman of the Kimberly Cates Memorial Scholarship board.

Strelzin argued to keep intact the life sentence and an additional sentence of 76 years for the attempted murder of Jaime and other crimes.

"He's a psychopath," Strelzin said, referring to psychiatric examinations of Spader in preparation for the hearing. "It's not a phase. It's not something he's going to grow out of. It's who he is."

Strelzin revealed for the first time Monday that Spader had been willing to plead guilty and accept a sentence of life without possibility of parole but would not plead to any crimes involving Jaimie. The state would not accept his terms.

Spader's instructions left his lawyers hamstrung.

"We were prepared to put in evidence and make argument on behalf of our client, but we have been instructed to do neither," Cohen told the judge.

Some of the strongest evidence against Spader at his trial were his own words — his bragging to friends about the attacks and detailed notes he wrote to his cellmates while awaiting trial.

Spader wrote that he whacked the mother 36 times and could see brains, lots of blood and her eyeball hanging out of its socket.

"I am probably the most sick and twisted person you will ever meet," Spader wrote as the prelude to one of his notes to a fellow inmate.

In sentencing Spader in 2010, Abramson said she could go on for days about the depths of his depravity. She said her sentence ensures "you will stay in that cage for the rest of your pointless life."

Spader was the first person to go on trial in the attacks. Co-defendant Christopher Gribble also is serving a life sentence. Three others in prison accepted a plea deal and testified against Spader.

On Monday, the judge recognized Jaimie, now 14, in court. "I'm sorry you are having to go through this again. Jaimie, it's nice to see you. I almost didn't recognize you. You are so grown up."

Abramson is expected to sentence Spader for a second time Friday.