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Murder suspects to skip court day

Will enter written not-guilty pleas in Mont Vernon case

By Lynne Tuohy
Associated Press / February 25, 2010

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CONCORD, N.H. - Two of the five young men charged in the killing of a woman and an attack on her daughter inside their Mont Vernon home are expected to waive their court appearances next week.

Steven Spader, 18, and Christopher Gribble, 20, both of Brookline, will instead enter written pleas of not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges in the Oct. 4 machete and knife attack on Kimberly Cates and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie Cates, lawyers said. The girl survived the attack.

Though five men are charged, authorities say that Spader and Gribble wielded the machete and knife in the attack. Police said Gribble told investigators the two men had planned the attack “for fun.’’

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin said yesterday that he has received the waiver notice from Spader’s attorney and is expecting a similar notice from Gribble’s lawyer. Strelzin said he expects the other three defendants to appear as scheduled.

Gribble’s lawyer, public defender Donna Brown, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment yesterday.

William Marks, 18, of Amherst, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit burglary, and first-degree assault. He is scheduled to enter pleas in Hillsborough Superior Court North Wednesday. Marks’s lawyer, Kenneth Bernard, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Quinn Glover, 18, of Amherst, and Autumn Savoy, 20, of Hollis, have both agreed to plead guilty to felony charges and to testify for the prosecution. Glover is scheduled to enter pleas Monday in Hillsborough Superior Court North, and Savoy is scheduled to appear in Hillsborough Superior Court South Friday. Those will be their first court appearances since their plea and cooperation agreements were revealed last week.

All five defendants had been scheduled to appear on different days of the week to avoid putting them in contact with one another while being transported or in the holding cell area of the courthouse, said John Safford, the chief clerk of Hillsborough North said.

“We try to keep the defendants from bumping into each other and having any contact,’’ Safford said. “It’s much simpler to do them on a staggered basis.’’

Strelzin declined to reveal where the five defendants are being held or whether they are in five separate facilities.

Spader and Gribble are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Strelzin said one murder charge is for intentional murder and the other for murder committed during a burglary.

Both charges carry mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole. Marks was charged with murder committed during the course of a burglary.