NASHUA, N.H. (CBS) — The insanity defense can be a risky strategy, says attorney and former prosecutor Jennifer Roman commenting on the Christopher Gribble trial.
Gribble is being tried for the murder of Kimberly Cates and her daughter Jamie in their Mont Vernon, New Hampshire home October 4, 2009. Gribble has admitted to the crime, but says he was insane at the time.
Unlike other states, New Hampshire has the so-called Durham rule in which a jury has to be convinced the crime was the direct result of a mental illness. And it’s up to jurors to decide exactly what constitutes a “mental illness.”
WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.
On the stand during the second day of testimony Gribble described how he carefully slashed and stabbed the mother and daughter.
“I was more controlled, I was very precise,” said Gribble. “I knew I was stabbing at a specific place, I knew where to go for, I knew where to stab,” he said in disturbing testimony that left some jurors in tears.
Twisted and remorseless, yes, says Roman but she believes it sounds too rehearsed to be insanity.
“You think of someone in and out of a mental institution, somebody can’t function in society, somebody with no control over their conduct,” said Roman.
Gribble has no documented history of mental illness, and Roman says he’s describing a murder premeditated with his friend Stephen Spader, already convicted of the crime. Though at times Gribble sounds detached as he talks of attacking then 11-year-old Jamie.
“I went for some sort of stab, which is odd because originally I remember having the knife this way so the blade is pointing this way,” he said.
Roman says, “This isn’t somebody who snapped in the moment.”
The defense is trying to paint a picture of a misguided young man who says he was abused at home, and disturbed enough to be so driven to kill it brought him satisfaction.
“It was this incredible relief of ‘wow’, okay, I actually did it and I feel better now,” said Gribble.
Gribble returns to the witness stand Wednesday and will undergo cross examination by the state.