A man convicted of hacking a woman to death with a machete has ‘insulted’ his victim’s family with an apology that also ordered his lawyers not to argue for a reduced sentence.
Steven Spader described himself as “the most sick and twisted person you’ll ever meet”, before going on to apologise for killing Kimberly Cates, who he has admitted striking 36 times in the head and torso with a machete in October 2009 when he was aged 17. The murder took place in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire.
In the letter, read out in court by his lawyers, Steven Spader said: “Through my impulsive actions, I have torn apart families and ruined lives… I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused you. I do not expect forgiveness, nor do I deserve any.”
The apology came at a resentencing hearing on Monday, where Judge Gillian Abramson heard evidence that will help her decide whether to reduce Spader’s mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole.
Spader originally received the sentence after being found guilty of the murder in November 2010.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the mandatory life sentence constitutes a “cruel and unusual punishment” however, as the crime was committed by somebody under the age of 18.
The 5-4 ruling insisted that the trial judge must weigh the convict’s age, maturity and any mitigating factors before resentencing him.
Spader waived his right to appear in court personally and has reportedly instructed lawyers not to argue for a reduced sentence, saying he did not want to “slip by on some technicality” and insisting he wants to “take responsibility for my actions”.
Kimberly Cates’ 14-year-old daughter Jaimie was in court to hear the apology, along with several other family members.
Jaimie had been present at the time of her mum’s death and was almost killed herself, suffering multiple hack and stab wounds. She was 11-years-old at the time.
Ms Cates’ family refused to accept Spader’s apology, with Prosecutor Jeffery Strelzin saying her father and husband David had found it insulting.
The family declined to address the court or make a comment before they left but a statement issued later by the Kimberly Cates Memorial Scholarship said: “David and Jamie wish only to heal and move forward.”
Prosecutor Strelzin has argued that Spader’s mental state suggests that, far from having his sentence reduced, he should, in fact, never be released.
“He’s a psychopath… it’s not a phase. It’s not something he’s going to grow out of. It’s who he is,” Strelzin said.
Strelzin added that, not only should the mandatory life sentence remain intact, an additional 76 years should be added to it for the attempted murder of Jaimie.
Spader’s lawyers said their client has specifically instructed them not submit any evidence that would reduce his sentence.
At the original trial, the strongest evidence against Spader turned out to be his own words, after he was found to be bragging to cellmates about the graphic details of the murder.
He had reportedly boasted about the amount of blood he’d seen, and also that Ms Cates’ brain had been left exposed and her eyeball ejected from its socket by the ferocity of his blows.
Sentencing Spader at the original 2010 trial Judge Gillian Abramson told him: “you will stay in that cage for the rest of your pointless life”.
Spader was the first of three people to go on trial over the attacks. Co-defendant Christopher Gribble is currently serving a life sentence.
Three other people accepted a plea deal and went on to testify against Spader.
Judge Abramson is expected to resentence Spader on Friday.
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