CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – A former Seacoast lawyer in prison for murdering his ex-wife must pay her estate nearly $4.9 million, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

A lower court awarded the money two years ago to the estate of Vicki Bader in a wrongful death lawsuit against Seth Bader, who is serving life in prison without possibility of parole.

After waging a bitter custody battle over their three children and terrorizing his ex-wife, Seth Bader shot her in the head in 1996 and buried her body in Waterboro, Maine. He was convicted of first-degree murder and murder conspiracy two years later.

Bader has appealed repeatedly, claiming the couple’s oldest son Joseph, who was 14 at the time, and Bader’s former fiancee conspired to kill Vicki and frame him. His appeals have been rejected by both state and federal courts.

He appealed the wrongful death conviction on some of the same grounds, arguing it should be thrown out because he didn’t testify in his own defense at his murder trial and prosecutors based their case on “perjured testimony” from witnesses who agreed to testify against him.

Even if the wrongful death conviction was allowed to stand, Bader said, the court should reject as excessive part of the award given for the emotional distress he caused his ex-wife while she was still alive. He also claimed a homestead exemption of $100,000 for the value of his house in Stratham.

The court said the award for emotional distress was not excessive, given Bader’s repeated efforts to alienate the children, cause Vicki to commit suicide, and terrorize her.

When she refused to give up her battle for custody, “he directed Joseph to go to her home and roast her two pet parakeets in the oven,” the court said.

He also was behind other acts of harassment, including “having Vicki’s car scratched and its tires slashed on February 14, 1996; on that same day, having the windows of her home shot out with a BB gun; and, at the end of April 1996, having an unknown man come to Vicki’s home to tell her that ‘she would not live long enough to get custody of her baby.”‘

Court records show Bader is a wealthy man who owned several homes in the Seacoast area. Some of the real estate was inherited from his parents, who also left him guns, cash, a Steinway piano and a $440,000 J.B. Guadagnini violin.

The court ruled Bader is not entitled to the homestead exemption because he is guaranteed a permanent home in the state prison system. Also, he has sold the Stratham house.

The homestead exemption is supposed to “secure to debtors and their families the shelter of the homestead roof; not to exempt mere investments in real estate, or the rents and profits derived” from them, the court ruled.

The lawsuit was brought by Vicki Bader’s mother, Lois Stewart, who lives on Long Island, N.Y. Stewart has said the family wanted to ensure Bader would not make any money by selling his story.

The Baders’ youngest son, Sam, who was 3 when his mother was killed, is being raised by one of Vicki’s brothers and his wife.

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