Quinn Glover, Christopher Gribble, Steven Spader, William Marks are the four teens convicted for stabbing Kimberly Cates to death.
Residents of the small, hilly town of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire are in a state of shock after four teens entered a home to rob it, and attacked a 41-year-old mother and her 11-year-old daughter. Using a machete and a knife, Kimberly Cates was attacked while she lay in her bed and killed by multiple sharp injuries to the head, torso, left arm, and left leg. Her daughter survived the attack although she suffered severe stabbing injuries and spent hours in surgery. The attack was a completely random one, Cate’s home chosen simply because it was isolated. “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.”
Some information on the teens have come to light as friends all report the same thing. Four kids who all fell into a downward spiral over recent years. Spader was a longtime Boy Scout who in recent months grew increasingly distant and depressed. He has a lengthy criminal record including threatening teens with a tire iron after ramming their car, charges of possessing stolen stereo equipment, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and marijuana possession charges. Most of these within recent months.
Gribble was a home-schooled Mormon who was planning to become a church missionary. Like a lot of kids raised in that environment (not all, people) he ended up rebelling X10 becoming a dark and brooding figure itching to lash out and become very fond of knives. It is reported that Marks is insecure and angst-ridden teen, and took a turn for the worse after meeting Spader. The same goes for Glover, a musician who performed in coffee shops, sang in the chorus, and starred in a school production of Cabaret.
Robert and Jeffrey Dingman
In New Hampshire, 17-year-olds are automatically treated as adults, and are subject to being charged with first degree murder, which carries a mandatory lifetime sentence.
The law has been applied to bring charges against at least four juveniles who committed first degree murder in the state in the last two decades.
Among them is Robert Dingman, of Rochester, who shot his parents dead at the age of 17. Dingman was aided by his younger brother, Jeffrey, who was 14 at the time of the killings.
Jeffrey Dingman later took the stand against his brother, telling a Strafford County Superior Court jury both siblings shot their parents, Vance and Eve Dingman, with a .22-caliber handgun.
Police found the bodies of the boys’ parents in the attic and basement of the house on Old Dover Road three days after the Feb. 9, 1996, homicides. They were wrapped in garbage bags and tape, which were connected via fingerprint evidence to Robert Dingman.
Jeffrey Dingman pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder as part of a plea agreement with the state that required him to testify against his brother.
Robert’s friends from Spaulding High School were also called to the stand by then Assistant Attorney General John Kacavas, who now serves as the U.S. Attorney in New Hampshire. They testified that Dingman had expressed a desire his kill his parents before they were murdered.
After a trial that lasted nine days, Robert Dingman was found guilty of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
“You will spend the remainder of your natural life in prison, a sentence which is wholly justified by the brutality of your acts,” Superior Court Judge Bruce Mohl said before imposing the mandatory lifetime prison sentence.
This week, assistant New Hampshire Attorney General Jeffrey A. Strelzin said state prosecutors are “in the process of reviewing and analyzing” the Supreme Court’s Miller vs. Alabama ruling to determine whether it bears influence on juvenile offenders behind bars in the state.
In addition to Dingman, the state has identified three other juvenile offenders who received mandatory life sentences barring parole.
Most recently, Steven Spader was found guilty of murdering Kimberly Cates and attacking her 11-year-old daughter during a home invasion in Mont Vernon.
Spader was sentenced last year to mandatory life without parole. Spader’s case is on appeal, and his defense lawyer, Jonathan Cohen, said it’s possible he may raise the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in court.
In another case, 17-year-old Robert Tulloch, of Vermont, was convicted of assisting in the stabbing deaths of a pair of Dartmouth college professors inside their home in 2001.
In a fourth case, Eduardo Lopez was found guilty of shooting dead a restaurant owner on a street in Nashua in 1991. He was also 17 at the time.
According to Strelzin, Spader’s case is the strongest of the four to undergo a sentencing review, since it’s the only one of the four that remains active.
Under the Supreme Court’s decision, individual judges still have the ability to sentence juvenile murderers to life without parole. However, the court has determined that state and federal laws cannot automatically impose such a sentence.
Strelzin said the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t indicate whether existing sentences, such as Robert Dingman’s, should be revisited.
“Typically, new rulings like this only apply to cases that are pending, and that means cases that haven’t gone to trial yet, or are on direct appeal,” he said.