NASHUA, N.H. (CBS/AP) – Jurors needed less than two hours Tuesday to reach a guilty verdict in 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.
18-year-old Steven Spader of Brookline, N.H. was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Kimberly Cates and attempted murder for the attack on her daughter Jaime in October 2009.
Under New Hampshire law, the first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic sentence of life without parole.
Kimberly Cates’ husband David wiped tears from his eyes as the verdict was read. Spader showed no emotion.
After David Cates read a victim impact statement, Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson told Spader “you belong in a cage” adding that he will “stay in that cage for the rest of your pointless life.”
Spader also was convicted of other felonies related to the home invasion. He was one of four men who allegedly broke into the Cates’ home in Mont Vernon home last year and the first to go on trial. Co-defendant Christopher Gribble will be tried in February.
Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson instructed the jury on the law Tuesday morning before asking them to deliberate the case.
The jury of six men and six women started at about 10:20 a.m. They came back with a verdict at 11:45 a.m. It was read at 1 p.m.
During the two-week trial, defense attorney Jonathan Cohen attacked the credibility of three co-defendants who brokered plea deals and testified against Spader. He suggested they, not Spader, were involved in the attacks.
MONT VERNON REACTS
In the Cates’ hometown of Mont Vernon, neighbors said there was a collective sigh of relief with today’s verdict. Mary Brown watched the verdict on TV. “Thank god. We were all hoping for that,” she said. “We are grateful he won’t be out to harm anyone else.”
Some in the small town feel the punishment just isn’t harsh enough for such a heinous crime.
“Steven Spader, if nothing else, is a poster child for the death penalty,” said Cates family friend John Quinlan. “He’s a totally remorseless, ruthless killer.”
At the bottom of the Cates’ street, flowers have been laid in tribute to family’s strength.
“Were all separated by about two degrees and so when something happens like this everyone’s affected in the community,” said resident Chip Spalding.
Peg Rusconi and Karen Anderson of WBZ-TV and Bernice Corpuz of WBZ News Radio contributed to this report.
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