MONT VERNON, N.H. -- The four teenagers accused of breaking into a home here and using a machete and a knife to butcher a mother and her 11-year-old daughter allegedly chose their victims by chance.
Kim Cates (Earle Rich photo)
"They picked the house at random because it was in an isolated area," prosecutor N. William Delker said today during the teens' arraignments in Milford District Court. "Before they entered the home, all four defendants were aware that the intent was to kill the occupants."
The violent whim allegedly took the teens to the home of Kim Cates, who lived in one of four houses on a quiet dirt road in this bucolic town about 13 miles north of the Massachusetts border. At 4 a.m. on Sunday, they are accused of breaking into the ranch-style home and killing Cates, 42, and severely injuring her daughter.
Prosecutors allege that Steven Spader, 17, drove that night and carried a machete, a detail that elicited a gasp of horror from the gallery when the crime was described in court. The lanky teen with buzzed hair wore baggy powder-blue basketball shorts and handcuffs as he faced charges that included murder and attempted murder. Like his three codefendants who were arraigned separately, Spader stood expressionless.
The second teen charged with murder and attempted murder is Christopher Gribble, who prosecutors say used a knife. The muscular 19-year-old wore a sleeveless shirt and camouflage pants when he appeared in court.
Spader and Gribble live near each other in Brookline, N.H., a small town about 11 miles south. Both teens are accused of attacking both victims and were ordered held without bail. Kim Cates was stabbed to death in her bed. An autopsy determined that she died from multiple sharp injuries to the head, torso, left arm, and left leg, according to a press release from the New Hampshire Attorney General's office.
The daughter, whose name was not released, underwent several hours of surgery that ended Sunday night. She remains in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital in Boston.
"Her injuries are very, very serious, but it doesn't appear her injuries are life threatening," Delker told reporters outside court.
The father and husband, David Cates, was out of state on business when his wife’s body was discovered, and he flew back to Boston and rushed directly to his daughter's side, authorities said.
The two other teenagers -- William Marks, 18, and Quinn Glover, 17 -- face charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, and armed robbery. Glover's attorney, Peter Anderson, described his client as a senior in high school with a B average who did not have a prior criminal record. Anderson said that there was no evidence that Glover acted in a violent manner.
Prosecutors countered that Glover and Marks were both armed with a deadly weapon, but they did not say what it was. And Glover knew full well they were breaking into the house to kill, prosecutors alleged.
"He went along with them willingly," Delker said.
Marks and Glover were ordered held on $500,000 cash bail. None of the teens entered pleas during their arraignments. They are all due back in court Oct. 20 for a probable cause hearing.
The crime seemed incomprehensible in Mont Vernon, a hilly town of about 2,000 people. The town center has just a few businesses, including a general store, which is closed until November.
"This is very shocking because this area is so quiet," said neighbor Romulo Valdez, 55, whose house is a 5 to 10 minute walk through the woods to the Cates home. "This is mostly farmland, and people are accustomed to leaving their doors unlocked."
Spader has a lengthy criminal record, court records show. In August he served 13 days in jail after pleading guilty to waving a tire iron at a group of teenagers after ramming their car in a chase, and also faces charges of possessing stolen stereo equipment. His record also includes convictions for trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest, all within the past several months. He had also been scheduled to be arraigned today on marijuana possession charges.
Spader lives in an affluent subdivision in Brookline, N.H. When a reporter approached the tan, garrison Colonial, a woman lowered the blinds. A man came to the door and asked the reporter to leave.
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