Keller @ Large: Spader – Death Penalty Poster Boy

By Jon Keller, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – If ever there was a worthy candidate for capital punishment, it’s Steven Spader, the violent psychopath convicted last week of the random murder of an innocent woman in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire and the attempted murder of her daughter.

There’s no question he committed the crime, it was premeditated, and there were no mitigating circumstances or evidence of remorse. Unfortunately, New Hampshire’s death penalty law is restricted to a handful of types of crime, such as killing for hire and murder of a law enforcement officer. Breaking into a stranger’s home and slaughtering them for kicks isn’t covered, although the local rep from Mont Vernon says he’s going to file a bill to include it.

The fact that Spader’s horrific crime isn’t punishable by death speaks to the effective lobbying of death-penalty opponents, who have done a fine job of making it as difficult and costly as possible to execute someone, while providing political cover for those who oppose capital punishment.

But the Spader case also exposes some glaring weaknesses in the case against the death penalty.

For instance, the Globe quotes Barbara Keshen, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, dismissing the notion that choosing to execute a vicious killer is in some cases the only real form of justice. “There are always going to be those people who are driven by a sense of what they consider to be justice and what other people consider to be vengeance,’’ she says, as if there were an unbridgeable gulf between vengeance and justice.

Keshen also claims there’s no proof that capital punishment deters crime, but ridding our world of Spader would certainly deter him from the crimes he will surely try to commit in prison.

And of course, she cites the high legal expense of administering the death penalty – yes, thanks to you and other obstructionists who make a career out of delaying justice.

Steve Spader is a disaster for the anti-death penalty zealots. He exposes their stance as a high-minded charade. One can only hope that in NH and elsewhere, saner heads will start to prevail.

Listen to Jon Keller’s commentary here:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

More from Jon Keller
  • Kathy Nolan Deschenes

    I’m not for the death penalty because it deters crime. Nor am I seeking justice with a death sentence. What I am seeking is to get an amoral psychopath out of the gene pool before some nutcase has a kid with him and carries the twisted DNA on to the general population again.

    I admit that some of my anger IS about letting a sick individual live after he tortures and kills innocent people. But I don’t call that justice. I call it respect for the lives of people who play by the rules and lead good lives.

  • Mark McGovern, Amherst, NH

    Too late. Steven Spader already has fathered a child. As far as the death penalty is concerned just think about this. You will not be there to “enjoy” this “justice”, this legalized murder of another human being. You may call him a non-human but you are incorrect. He is human. His mind is definitely lacking of any type of empathy because that part of his brain is not existent. He was adopted and probably the offspring of an alcoholic, perhaps fetal alcohol syndrome. There are many children just like him. We as a society must learn to recognize these kids and help them BEFORE they murder some other mother, wife sister or PTA president. But no, the easiest solution is to just wait until they have spiraled down to the point of murder and dragged their friends along for the ride. And by the way, his death by injection would not ease the Cates Famliy’s pain and loss. Have a nice day.

  • Snowflake

    I have very mixed feelings about the death penalty because wherever human intervention is involved, so is error. However, I will say as far as cost to execute an individual, what about the cost of housing, feeding, clothing, health care, etc of a criminal for the rest of his life? This kid just turned 19. As I said, I have mixed feelings, but this was a horrific crime and there’s no doubt about his guilt. If ever the death penalty should be allowed, it would be in this case. It may not deter crime, as some have said, but it sure would make sure this psycho wouldn’t be committing another one.

  • jaygee

    Here we go again with the same worn argument that capital punishment does not deter one from killing. The statement itself is ludicrous since many people who have killed in cold blood have been released and killed again. There are also many cases where a killer has killed again while behind bars. Wouldn’t that convince someone such as Barbara Keshen that her staement is absurd.
    The murder of a loved one not only ends the life of the victim but also many in the family. Every day they wake up, the pain is there and it never goes away. The killer sits in prison taking college courses, being “born again” and breathing.
    We know that being there is certainly no bargain but they put themselves in that situation. Some of these killers have killed more than once or twice yet continue to live their pathetic lives.

    Why should cold-blooded murderers who kill totally innocent people in the safety of their own homes, such as the Petit family in Ct., have anyone on their side rather than on the side of the victims and their families? Would Ms. Keshen possess the same feelings if she came home one night and found her entire family murdered? I seriously doubt it! the citizens of Mass. have consistently voted for capital punishment by a two-thirds vote and yet nothing happens.

  • JoMarie

    The death penalty is not to deter crime. It’s punishment for the horrific crime that has been committed. Just like shortening someone’s prison sentence for ‘good behaviour’. The good behaviour of the criminal in jail has nothing to do with the crime they committed and the time they are serving. They should have to complete the full sentence they are given. And don’t give me that ‘it costs the taxpayers too much to keep them in prison’ Get rid of the country club amentities these people are treated to behind bars, give them the just basics to survive and it would be cheap.

  • Petetm

    @Mark McGovern: Yes, they are called sociopaths and if you truly believe they can be helped, then feel free to have them shack up at your house. This animal should NOT be cagged, just put down. He will never have any regard for human life so that favor should be returned.

  • JoMarie

    @Petetm – your comment to Mark McGovern to have them shack up with him – priceless!

  • BostonIrish

    Kill him. Let one of the relatives do it. Strap him to a dolly and IV him. Pump that syringe. This IS the case that screams for the death penalty. There’s no reason to expect the taxpayers to shelter him and feed him in prison for the rest of his life. It’s the Dukakis question, remember? What if it was one of your loved ones? Turn the other cheek? Show mercy? The world has so many people in it I think we can weed out the Spaders and not loose any sleep over it.

  • StanleyRamon

    I think it’s more of a punishment and less costly to taxpayers if he stays in prison his entire life. Killing him only let’s him off the hook and although it makes most of us feel better, it won’t ease any pain felt by those closest to the victims.

    • BostonIrish

      How is it less costly? You remove the man from the prison system and you’re not paying for him for the next 40 or so years. And letting him exist in incarceration is more punishment than eliminating him? Killing him let’s him off the hook? And you don’t think that the victims and family members concern themselves with knowing he made it out alive and in custody? That he gets to breath, talk and laugh? And what about the fact that he is alive and even though he’s imprisoned for life without parole, at some point down the road some politician manages to get life without parole reduced to possible parole after so long because it’s not a humane sentence? And don’t say it’s impossible. Stan, I completely disagree with you. He should be executed.

      • StanleyRamon

        I knew I’d hear back from you on this one. I haven’t done the math, but something tells me that paying for the orange jump suit and meals spread over even 60 years will still not add up to the cost of lawyer fees for all the appeals and stays of execution that will result while he is on death row. His court appearances could go on endlessly, costing taxpayers all the way. If he was to go quietly and directly to his death like a man, then I may agree with you that a quick and efficient execution would be more economical. It would also give him more notoriety, something I’m sure he craves whereas if he sits in jail, he will be just another psychotic criminal only to be remembered when a do-gooder, like Oprah, feels like interviewing him. Yes, I agree that there is always the fear that some misinformed sympathetic soul will take up the cause to free him, but I can’t see it happening in Mr. Spader’s case.
        Also, death is no deterrent to a psychopath. No, my feeling is that he would be punished far more if he had to sit in a cell for the rest of his pathetic life and, with any luck, one of his fellow in-mates would do the deed far more effectively than the State Of NH ever will. As far as the victim’s family goes, you would have to ask them if they would feel better knowing he’s dead. I have read cases where there is no comfort either way. It will not bring back the victim.
        A good gauge for Mr. Spader’s case is the Stephen Hayes crime in Conn. He has been sentenced to death. It will be interesting to see how long it takes, and how much money it costs, and how good everyone will feel, to kill him.

  • Dave Just Dave

    hes a hands down convicted murder. death to him by “lead poisoning” would cost about 46 cents. plus i would do it for FREE.

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