NASHUA, N.H. – The teen on trial for murder in a home invasion and machete attack detailed his crimes in letters he described as "bedtime stories" to a fellow jail inmate, according to testimony Wednesday.
The inmate, Chad Landry, testified he was in the same cell block as defendant Steven Spader last winter at the Hillsborough County jail. Landry told jurors he and Spader would pass notes back in forth inside books they slid down the corridor between their cells.
Prosecutors say Spader wielded a machete in the attacks 13 months ago that killed Kimberly Cates and severely hurt her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie, at their home in the hamlet of Mont Vernon. They say co-defendant Christopher Gribble, who goes on trial in February, used a knife to hack at the victims.
In the letters to Landry, Spader wrote that he whacked the mother 36 times and that he could see brains and lots of blood and that her eyeball was hanging out of its socket.
"It was such an adrenaline rush. I almost hit Gribble with the machete," Spader wrote. "He said I looked crazy."
Spader, now 18, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, attempted murder and other felonies.
"The little girl screamed and jumped into Gribbles, who stabbed and sliced her head, face, chest, then threw her into the glass door," Spader wrote. "I hacked up the mom."
One 10-page letter to Landry began with the words, "So begins the tale of the Mont Vernon murder by Steven A. Spader."
Landry said he used the letters to cut a deal with prosecutors to reduce the charges he faced. Prosecutors agreed to drop an assault and a disorderly conduct charge.
Spader is not the only defendant in the case who has been writing behind bars.
Another teenager who was in the room during the attacks admitted that he wrote a poem saying he liked to chop up women with an ax.
Defense lawyers confronted co-defendant William Marks about the poem seized from his cell months ago and asked if he could recite it. Marks said, "I always have an ax by my side, looking for my next homicide." Another line referred to how he liked to chop up women, but substituted a profane term for "women."
Despite a withering cross-examination, Marks maintained Spader wielded the machete and Gribble the knife during the attacks.
Marks and other witnesses testified that he was lowered into the home through a basement window because he was the smallest of the four intruders.
He said he thought he was locked in the basement and the others had to break in by moving an air conditioning unit. Defense attorney Jonathan Cohen emphasized that Marks was alone in the house with the victims for nearly half an hour.
"You were lying about not attacking Kimberly Cates," Cohen said, to which Marks replied, "No."
Two other co-defendants, Quinn Glover and Autumn Savoy, have pleaded guilty to various felonies. Both testified against Spader last week.
Kimberly Cates' mother testified briefly Wednesday to identify a bracelet Kimberly had given her years earlier.
The bracelet was among other pieces of gold jewelry prosecutors say Spader and Gribble stole from the Cates home and pawned.
In a quavering voice, Lisa Piasecki said she sent the bracelet back to Kimberly months before the home invasion, asking her to save it for Jaimie.