March 25, 2011 -- The 12-year-old survivor of a knife and machete attack appeared in court today to watch as a judge sentenced her attacker and her mother's killer to two life sentences without chance of parole. Jaimie Cates and her mother were attacked in October 2009.
Christopher Gribble, 21, had admitted stabbing the New Hampshire girl and killing her mother in a crime that shocked and terrified local residents. A jury convicted Gribble of first degree murder after jurors rejected his insanity claim, concluding he was sane on the night of the brutal attack.
The jury also found Gribble guilty of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit burglary and witness tampering.
The husband and father of the victims, David Cates, spoke to the court today, thanking the prosecutors for their work. He addressed Gribble and called him a "worthless coward" for slaying a woman and attempting to kill her daughter, both of whom, he said, were helpless against his "gutless" attack.
"To the murderer in this courtroom, as I've said in the past, this verdict is not justice," Cates said. "But I can only hope that justice will find you soon."
Jaimie, who was 11 at the time of the attack, left the room during her father's statement. She rejoined afterward to hear Gribble's sentencing.
The judge, Gillian Abramson, told Gribble, "I believe the record will thoroughly support my belief that infinity is not enough jail time for you."
She sentenced Gribble to two life terms in prison for the first degree and attempted murder charges.
Clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, Gribble appeared to have no reaction as the judge sentenced him to a lifetime behind bars.
Abramson thanked Jaimie Cates for coming and allowing the court and jurors to see the survivor they had heard so much about.
"This man and the other men who were involved in this terrible crime can never hurt you again," the judge told Cates. "I wish you better days."
Gribble Previously Told Jurors He Could Kill Again
During his insanity trial, Gribble told the court that he had wanted to shoot people to death and that "it is possible I would kill again."
He recounted on the stand how he told police that he wanted to use different weapons in future crimes. He didn't use a gun on the Cates, he said, because he had no money.
Gribble also related to jurors how he had told police that he would cleverly disguise guns if he used them, so they could not be traced to the same killings or attacks.
"You could switch barrels in a pistol," he said in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. "So if you do a rifling test it wouldn't show. I think I learned it on 'CSI.'"
To disprove his insanity claim, prosecutors highlighted Gribble's conscious thoughts on the night of the Mount Vernon murder and his sense of right and wrong.
Gribble said some things are common sense. For example, he said, certain things can remove blood from clothing, and secrets are difficult to maintain if too many people know of them.
"That's that common sense you talked of earlier," lead prosecutor Jeff Strelzin said. "You didn't need 'CSI' to tell you that, right?"
"No," Gribble said, with a laugh.
Speaking of his time in prison, Gribble implied that guards and other inmates did not treat him as a danger.
"I could be considered dangerous," Gribble told the courtroom.
"People in jail don't know how dangerous you are?" Strelzin said.
"No, they don't," replied Gribble, smiling.
Strelzin asked him to explain why that thought made him smile.
"I smile because it's funny. All those people in there have no idea who they're messing with."