The New Hampshire man who has confessed to a home invasion and deadly machete attack is a self-described social outcast who turned to a darker side of himself after his girlfriend ended their relationship, he testified in court today.
Christopher Gribble, 21, has admitted to the random stabbing death of Kimberly Cates of Mount Vernon and the attempt to kill her 11-year-old daughter in early October 2009.
Gribble today described the alleged attack in calm detail, saying that unlike co-defendant Steven Spader, he was controlled and precise during the alleged killing. Gribble described stabbing the mother with a long knife several times from one side of the bed, while Spader allegedly swung a machete and stabbed uncontrollably from the other side.
He said the daughter, who was asleep in the same bed, soon jumped out of bed and bumped into him.
"I immediately wrapped my left arm around her," he said in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua.
"I went for some sort of shot, I'm pretty sure it was a neck shot because I remember it being high. But I missed," he added, his eyes widening in surprise.
At one point, Gribble said, the lights were turned on, and he looked at Spader "panting" and "completely out of control."
"The only thought that really entered my head at that point [was], 'Wow, this looks just like a CSI scene,'" Gribble said in reference to the popular television show.
Gribble, who did not know the victims and has claimed he was insane at the time of the attack, at times calmly described the events, and at other times seemed surprised at his memories of that night. He said it was interesting to see his co-defendant allegedly stab the mother, 42, so deeply that Gribble could see bone.
"It was a curiosity," Gribble said, cocking his head to one side, "like, oh, that's what bones look like."
Speaking in a level voice, Gribble testified that although Spader had allegedly repeatedly stabbed the victim, she was still alive. Spader, Gribble said, threw a pillow over her head because she was making "raspy" noises. Gribble described going back to his side of bed, and taking action.
"Very carefully from the carotid artery, I cut. I had to adjust at one point because I got the angle wrong. I hit the spine, I remember that," he said.
During the alleged murder and subsequent robbery, he said, he "knew instinctively" what to do. He said repeatedly that it is difficult to describe what he felt that night: especially afterward, when he was in the car leaving the scene of the alleged crime.
"It felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders," Gribble said, comparing the experience to an orgasm but then saying he didn't want to use that word to describe the sensation.
"Like, wow, ok, I actually did it and I feel better now," he said in another attempt to share his thoughts at the time.
Days before the attack, Gribble sent his ex-girlfriend, Ashley Martin, a string of prescient text messages.
"I can't seem to make it through life the way religion says too [sic]," he messaged. "i've tried letting my nice side run things. it didn't work. now the dark side of me will."
He then sent messages saying he and Spader had plans, and that he did not want to implicate her in anything he was doing. When she replied with a text message containing a single exclamation point, Gribble responded:
"What? I'm the same, I'm just letting the nastier side of me take over."
The alleged killing and home invasion took place less than one week later.
Today was Gribble's second day on the stand.
He testified Monday that he had fantasized about various ways to kill his mother when he was a young teenager: cutting her into little pieces "bit by bit," pouring boiling water over her and bending her limbs out of joint.
In today's testimony, Gribble spoke of how he had felt emotionally attached to ex-girlfriend Martin, and how that made him feel awkward.
Co-defendant Spader was convicted in November and sentenced to life in prison.