Expert: Insanity Defense Difficult For Home Invasion Killer

By Peg Rusconi, WBZ-TV

NASHUA, N.H. (CBS) – Christopher Gribble admits he took part in one of the most vicious and gruesome crimes in New Hampshire’s recent history: the machete and knife attack inside a family’s home that left a Kimberly Cates dead and her daughter Jaime permanently injured.

The question for the jury is– was he legally insane?

“Crazy in NH can mean whatever the jury decides it means,” said University of New Hampshire law professor Albert Scherr. He said New Hampshire law gives juries an unusual amount of say in the matter.

“It does not tell the jury what counts as a mental disease or defect. No definition, it’s completely up to jury, it does not require a medical diagnosis,” said Scherr.

WBZ-TV’s Peg Rusconi reports.

According to police reports, Gribble claimed to be a sociopath.

But Scherr said proving insanity is difficult, in part because juries tend to be skeptical.

“The idea that defendant is getting off on a technicality, the idea that he’s faking it, the idea that he doesn’t look like he’s nuts,” said Scherr, all create an uphill battle.

Late last year, Steven Spader, who wielded a machete during the attacks, was convicted and sent to prison for life.

With the insanity defense, Scherr says the only questions for Gribble are where he’ll be held and for how long.

As Judge Gillian Abramson told potential jurors, even if they find Gribble not guilty by reason of insanity, he could still spend the rest of his life in a secure state psychiatric unit, if he’s deemed a danger to the public.

Said Scherr, “Technically he’s either insane and subject to lengthy commitment or he’s sane and will serve a life without parole sentence.”

The murder trial is expected to start on March 14th.

Of the 130-prospective jurors brought in on the first day of screening, about 100 raised their hands when asked if they’d have a problem serving on this trial.

  • Cynic

    I put in a VALID E-MAIL ADDRESS and I don’t feel like writing my comment again.

  • Jury Selection Underway In Mont Vernon, New Hampshire Home Invasion TrialCBS Boston

    […] Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson told about 130 potential jurors that Gribble, 21, bears the burden of convincing them he was insane when he broke into the Cates’ Mont Vernon home and hacked at the mother and daughter with a knife. Read: Insanity Defense An ‘Uphill Battle’ For Home Invasion Killer […]

  • lotsoflaughs

    So much of the news these days is depressing. If you haven’t checked out this blog yet you should…it has some really funny stories and it’s all clean and kid friendly stuff.

  • Cynic

    Why doesn’t he just fire his Lawyer and save his money for the Canteen in Prison. Thats where he is going no matter what.

  • dawg

    His lawyer is a public defender. He couldn’t afford one but invoked his 6th Amendment right and was supplied one by the state.

  • Jury To Tour NH Home Invasion Murder Scene « CBS Boston

    […] Gribble claims he was insane at the […]

  • Doc: Mont Vernon Murder Suspect Talked Of Killing Folks « CBS Boston

    […] The psychiatrist also said during questioning that Gribble showed no evidence of psychotic episodes and no impulse control disorders when she evaluated him. Read: Expert: Insanity Defense Difficult For Home Invasion Killer […]

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