May 25. 2013 11:42PM

Mont Vernon murder mastermind drops appeal, citing 'personal and moral' reasons

New Hampshire Union Leader

CONCORD - The mastermind of the 2009 Mont Vernon thrill kill home invasion will not appeal his first-degree murder and related convictions to the New Hampshire Supreme Court for "personal and moral reasons," his attorney said Friday.

Legal experts expressed surprise at the unusual move of Steven Spader abandoning his mandatory right of direct appeal.

"Mr. Spader indicated to me . that he wished to withdraw his appeal. He indicated that he wished to do so for personal and moral reasons," court-appointed appellate defender Richard E. Samdperil said Friday. He said Spader, 21, did not elaborate.

The Supreme Court granted Spader's motion to withdraw his appeal Wednesday.

Samdperil said he filed a motion May 3 to reinstate the Spader's appeal process one week after Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Gillian L. Abramson resentenced Spader under new guidelines for juvenile murderers set down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Samdperil said he visited Spader in prison shortly after the former Brookline resident indicated he didn't want to proceed with his direct appeal.

Spader, who chose not to attend his April 22 resentencing hearing or have his attorneys present a case on his behalf, was resentenced April 26 to life without parole plus 76 years. This is the same sentence he received after a jury convicted him Nov. 9, 2010, of first-degree murder for hacking Kimberly L. Cates to death and maiming her daughter, Jaimie, then 11, during a pre-dawn bedside ambush and burglary.

A source familiar with the case said Spader's statement read aloud by his attorneys at the April 22 hearing may provide some clue for why Spader decided against an appeal.

"It's pretty unusual that an appeal is withdrawn. I think in Spader's resentencing there was some indication that . he didn't ultimately contest certain things. So I think that is consistent with the fact he chose to withdraw his appeal," the source said.

In a handwritten statement read at the April 22 hearing, Spader said he decided not to fight for a new sentence under the U.S. Supreme Court's Miller v. Alabama guidelines for juvenile killers because "I chose not to try and slip by on some technicality."

"Instead, I chose to accept responsibility for my actions and for the decisions that I have made," he continued.

Spader apologized and asked for forgiveness for the harm he caused not only the Cates family, but also those of his co-defendants and his family.

Spader's decision not to appeal his convictions brings to an end all pending cases involving him and his four co-defendants.

The state Supreme Court this month upheld accomplice Christopher A. Gribble's convictions on the same charges Spader faced.

Amherst classmates Quinn Glover and William Marks, both 21, turned cooperating witnesses for the state and pleaded guilty to lesser charges, losing their rights to appeal. Glover is serving a 20- to 40-year prison sentence and Marks 30 to 60 years.

Autumn Savoy, formerly of Hollis, is serving five to 12 years for helping cover up the crimes. Savoy was the only one of the five who did not directly participate in the home invasion.