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By Lynne Tuohy, Associated Press

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) – More than 100 potential jurors say they would have trouble serving on a panel that will decide whether a man was insane when he hacked a mother to death and maimed her 11-year-old daughter during a Mont Vernon invasion.

Christopher Gribble admits he participated in the Oct. 4, 2009, killing of Kimberly Cates and the attack on her daughter, Jaimie, but he says he was insane at the time.

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

The judge said the trial is expected to begin March 14 and will last about two weeks. It’s been more than half a century since a New Hampshire jury has found a suspect not guilty by reason of insanity.

More than 100 of those gathered raised their hands when asked by the judge if anyone would have trouble serving on the jury. Abramson then conducted bench conferences with each of them individually to vet the nature of their concerns and whether they should be excused.

The two dozen or so who said they would have no problem were given appointments to return for individual questioning under oath. Steven Spader, of Brookline, who wielded a machete during the attacks, was convicted by a jury in November and is serving two life sentences for murder and attempted murder.

Gribble’s trial will begin, as Spader’s did, with jurors touring the outside of the Mont Vernon home where the attacks occurred. Abramson told the potential jurors that even if they find Gribble not guilty by reason of insanity, he could still spend the rest of his life in the secure psychiatric unit of the state prison if he is deemed a danger to the community.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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