Closing Arguments In Home Invasion Murder Trial

NASHUA, N.H. (CBS) – It is one of New Hampshire’s most infamous murders: a mother slain with a machete in her bed; her 11-year-old daughter survived by playing dead.

Monday, jurors heard closing arguments in the case against Steven Spader, one of four men who allegedly broke into a Mont Vernon home last year. The 18-year-old Brookline, N.H. man is charged with first degree murder in the killing of Kimberly Cates and attempted murder for the attack on her daughter Jaime.

David Cates, Kimberly’s husband and Jaime’s father, was in the courtroom for closings, as was Steven Spader’s mother.

Two weeks of testimony featured dozens of prosecution witnesses telling the court about Spader’s alleged obsession with murder and his alleged actions that night. Several of those witnesses cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony.

On the flip side, defense attorney Jonathan Cohen never called a single witness.

Spader trial closing arguments, Bernice Corpuz reports

During closing arguments Monday, he spent more than an hour painting many of the prosecution witnesses as liars with something to gain.

“There is a large quantity of evidence in this case, but little quality evidence,” Cohen told jurors. “You are left not knowing what happened in that house.”

He portrayed Spader as a tough-talking teenager who didn’t follow through on claims of violence. “Steven Spader cannot be trusted,” Cohen said in closing.

When prosecutors had their turn, they argued that Spader’s tough talk, particularly in prison letters that described the crime, was not exaggerated. Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeff Strelzin said those letters were the confessions of a killer.

With photos of the victims projected in the courtroom, Strelzin called Spader “merciless” as he showed jurors the machete allegedly used to kill Kimberly and maim her daughter. “Does this look like a joke?” he asked, holding the weapon. “This is Stevie being Stevie right here. This is the real Steven Spader. You can trust this. This is the best piece of physical evidence you could get.”

“He enjoyed what he did and he enjoyed telling others about it,” Strelzin said of Spader. “He’s a cold, calculating, remorseless killer.”

Outside court, Steven Spader’s mother told reporters, “We love our son and God loves our son, too.”

The jury of 7 women and 9 men will be instructed by the judge Tuesday morning, when the pool of 16 is whittled to just 12 for deliberations.

If convicted, Steven Spader faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. While New Hampshire has a death penalty, it does not apply to the circumstances of Kimberly Cates’ slaying.

In New Hampshire the death penalty applies only in six specific circumstances: murder of a law enforcer; murder during a kidnapping; contract killings; murder committed by someone already serving a life sentence; murder during an aggravated sexual assault; and murder in conjunction with a federal drug offense.

Bernice Corpuz of WBZ News Radio and Peg Rusconi of WBZ-TV contributed to this report.

  • jaygee

    Let’s be quite honest about this. Deliberations shuld take less than an hour at which time he should be taken out behind the courthouse and hung from a sturdy tree. Either that or tie him to the tree and do to him what he did to that poor woman, That would be the only justice for this coward.

    • Rudy B

      Lets be real.This is a person who had it all and does not think he is accountable.Im sure he will not last long!!

  • atv

    Burn this guy

  • mdee

    Hang ’em high!! Get rid of him quickly. Why should the taxpayers support this coward for 50 or more years?

  • macmum

    I know it doesn’t feel like closure yet. But over time, this Father and Husband can eventually move on is some way. My family has to continually “relive” my sister’s murder because there is no death penalty in RI. Next Monday I have to go to yet another parole hearing to hopefully insure that the man that stabbed my sister to death does not get out to stalk someone else’s family member. At least if he had gotten life with no parole OR the death penalty we would not have to re-hash all the pain 21yrs later… and every three years from now until forever. To me, this penalty is justice for everyone-his actual victims and any possible future ones if the sentence were anything different.

  • Jury To Begin Deliberations In Steven Spader Home Invasion Murder Trial CBS Boston – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and Boston's Best

    […] N.H. (AP) — Jurors will begin weighing the guilt or innocence of a New Hampshire teenager charged with wielding a machete in the deadly Mont Vernon home invasion […]

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