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No parole for man who helped cover up Mont Vernon murders
Autumn Savoy, 20, of Hollis, is arraigned in Nashua District Court in 2009 on charges of hindering apprehension and prosecution and conspiracy in connection with the murder of Kimberly Cates in Mont Vernon last month. (BOB LaPREE/UNION LEADER FILE)
Autumn Savoy, 24, admitted he knew his friends were planning a burglary and, after the knife-and-machete rampage took place, helped convicted murderers Steven Spader and Christopher Gribble get rid of bloody clothing and other evidence, tossing it into the Nashua River.
Neither David Cates, husband of murder victim Kimberly L. Cates, 42, nor victim Jaime Cates, now 16, attended the hearing at the New Hampshire State Prison.
But in a statement read by Lynda Ruel of the Attorney General’s Office of Victim Witness Assistance, David Cates described how four teens, armed with knives and a machete, broke into the Cates home on Oct. 4, 2009, between 3 and 4 a.m. while his wife and daughter were sleeping. Cates was away on business that night.
“They broke in with excitement, anticipating the heinous act they were about to commit,” Cates’ statement said. “My wife and daughter wakened to the sound of these useless criminals towering over them, shining an iPod screen in their faces. In the blink of an eye, my family’s lives changed forever. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine just how scared they were as dozens of stabs and slashes were delivered with razor-sharp knives to their helpless bodies. I live with this image every day of my life.”
He said he could only imagine his wife not knowing if her daughter was alive or dead.
“I can only imagine that Kim assumed Jaimie was dead. My wife was very strong and a fighter, but I’m sure in the last moments of her life, the thought of her daughter lying dead next to her was more than she could bear, so she drifted off with the hopes of seeing her on the other side.”
Savoy, he said, could have prevented all that from happening.
“He knew at least a full 24 hours in advance that these men planned to violently break into a home, wielding large knives. But Autumn Savoy did not have the guts to stand up to these punks and drop a dime to at least call a parent if not the police.
“While Autumn Savoy did not actually wield a knife, he certainly conspired with them to cover up their tracks and provide them an alibi for this heinous murder and maiming,” Cates wrote.
In prison five years
Savoy, wearing round-rimmed brown glasses and his Merrimack County Department of Corrections-issued orange uniform, spoke to board members on video from the Boscawen jail.
In prison now for five years, Savoy asked the Adult Parole Board to release him, saying he has completed anger management classes, some educational courses, including one concerning resume-building and, within the past two weeks, had received a job offer to work for a moving company in Milford.
He pleaded guilty in 2010 to two counts of hindering apprehension and one count of conspiring to commit hindering apprehension, in a plea agreement requiring him to testify against Spader and Gribble.
In exchange, he was sentenced to five to 12 years in state prison and received another three- to seven-year suspended sentence.
He will not have served his minimum sentence until Nov. 9.
Savoy’s mother, in addressing the board, said her son did not know of his friends’ plans to murder someone. He only learned what they did when they came to their Hollis home afterward and told him. They also told him his family would be next if he said anything, she said.
“He had to maintain a semblance of friendship,” Mrs. Savoy said before being cut off by board Chairman Donna Sytek, who said the purpose of the hearing was not to retry the case.
Savoy answered “Yes” when parole board member Mark Furlone asked if he had pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension, admitting he was aware of Spader’s plan to break into a home and that he chose to do nothing about it.
In denying Savoy parole, the board told him he needed to come back with a better plan and after transitioning into the half-way house system.
Jeffrey Lyons, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said it could be two months before Savoy is transferred to the Corrections Transitions Work Unit, and it could take another six months for him to transition into the half-way house program.
He estimated it would be about nine months before Savoy would be able to seek parole again.
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