Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Thrill Kill: The Murder of Kimberly Cates

Update: Gribble's Sentencing


 The insane deserve our sympathy. Driven by madness and what they often feel are quite literally demons in their minds, demons pulling them and their fellow citizens toward destruction, the truly insane — the schizophrenic, the radically bi-polar — deserve recognition of their situation. They should be treated differently. But to have faulty brain chemistry that sees the world as populated by evil beings is quite different from being evil

Christopher Gribble
Christopher Gribble
oneself. Christopher Gribble is one such monster, undeserving of sympathy. And on March 25, 2011, despite his cynical strategy of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, Gribble received as much punishment as the state of New Hampshire would allow. As CBS News reports, "minutes after the jury returned the verdict against 21-year-old Christopher Gribble, Judge Gillian Abramson imposed the mandatory sentence of life without parole, telling Gribble, 'infinity is not enough jail time.'"

Although Spader has long been considered the ringleader in this "thrill killing," Gribble statements during the trial indict him as being the most cold-blooded of the New Hampshire killing crew.

"I just felt nothing," Gribble said. "It was kind of cool because it was different....It was a curiosity, like, oh, that's what bones look like." Gribble's heartless statements punctuated his testimony, in which he claimed to have been more methodical than Stephen Spader. While Spader swung his machete wildly, Gribble wielded his knife with precision. As Gribble said when discussing the moment when he cut Kim Cates' throat, displaying an imbecile villain's pride in his inhumanity, "[I moved] 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."

During Gribble's trial, several psychiatrists testified to the killer's mental state, but the consensus was that he was, in fact, not insane. Rather, Gribble was identified as having an anti-social personality disorder, a diagnosis that didn't meet the requirements of his insanity defense. The jury wasn't buying his story from the beginning. In a rare display of condemnation, the jury requested to be present during Gribble's sentencing. As the judge condemned Gribble to life with no hope of ever seeing freedom again, many jurors glowered or smiled at Gribble.

NH State Prison, where Gribble will serve his sentence
NH State Prison, where Gribble will serve his sentence
David Cates and Jamie Cates were also in the courtroom to witness the sentencing. Physically healed from the attack but surely still reeling from the emotional anguish caused by this group of foolish domestic terrorists, Jaime who is now 12 years old watched inadequate justice served against her mother's killer. As CBS News reported, "[Judge] Abramson thanked Jaimie for her presence in the courtroom and assured her that the men involved in this 'horrible crime' could never hurt her again."

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