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Teenagers to go on trial in Dartmouth murder

BY ELLEN THOMPSON

Weeks after the murders of two Dartmouth professors, one suspect was arraigned Wed., Feb. 27 in Lebanon, N.H., while a second suspect faces a hearing on Fri., Feb. 23 to determine if he will oppose extradition from Indiana to New Hampshire. The two suspects are Robert Tulloch, 17, and James Parker, 16.
MARK SIMMONS/NEWSMAKERS
James Parker faces two murder charges for the deaths of Half and Susanne Zantop

Henry County Prosecutor Kit Crane expects Parker to waive his right to further extradition hearings, the Associated Press reported. If Parker waives his rights, authorities will return him to New Hampshire Fri., Feb. 23 or Sat., Feb. 24.

New Hampshire officials released police documents, including warrant affidavits, but no information was released concerning a motive for the crime.

On the evening of Sat., Jan. 27, a friend visiting Half and Susanne Zantop found the couple stabbed to death in their home in Aetna, N.H. At a press conference on Sat., Feb. 17, authorities announced the pursuit of two teenagers linked to the killing by forensic evidence.

Parker and Tulloch live in Chelsea, Verm., just 30 miles from Hanover, N.H. The Associated Press reported that Tulloch and Parker became suspects when authorities learned of a combat-style knife purchased off the Internet by one of the boys. Authorities recovered a sheath from the victims' home bearing a fingerprint that led them to one of the suspects.

Fingerprints of the two teenagers were taken Thurs., Feb. 15. The two disappeared the next day, were then charged with first-degree murder, and a warrant was issued for their arrest.

Parker and Tulloch were spotted the day they took flight at a rest stop in Columbia, N.J. On Sun., Feb. 18, a 1987 silver Audi belonging to Parker's mother was found by Massachusetts state police in Sturbridge, Mass. A truck carrying the two boys—whose driver's broadcast was routinely monitored by Indiana police—finally led to the arrest of the suspects early on Mon., Feb. 19 in New Castle, Ind.

According to documents released Wed., Feb. 21, Parker's father witnessed his son's flight at 3 a.m.on Fri., Feb. 15 but waited until 11 a.m. before notifying police. A note written by the fleeing boy was found in the Parker home requesting that no one alert police, the Associated Press reported Thurs., Feb. 22.

New Hampshire Attorney General Philip T. McLaughlin has decided to try the teenagers as adults. He does not know whether he will seek the death penalty, The New York Times reported on Wed., Feb. 21.

Parker and Tulloch are being charged with two counts of first-degree murder. New Hampshire law states that a homicide must be "deliberate and premeditated" to qualify as first-degree murder. Conviction brings a sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

A conviction of capital murder, punishable by death, applies to someone who commits murder at the same time as he commits a felony. However, New Hampshire law states that "in no event shall any person under the age of 17 years be culpable of a capital murder." Parker is 16 years old.

"According to New Hampshire law, accomplices are liable to the same extent as the person who committed the act," New Hampshire criminal attorney Jim Loring said.

"If there were a conviction on these charges, depending on facts that might emerge from trial, the minimum penalty for this crime would be life without parole—New Hampshire law rarely calls for the death penalty," Loring added.

As authorities handle the legal aspects of the Zantop murders, the Dartmouth community must deal with the emotional implications. A student of Half Zantop described the response of the community as "immediate," adding, "They made resources available so that anyone, no matter what group they felt linked to, could have somewhere to turn. Since I felt comfortable at the Women's Resource Center, that's where I turned."

Dartmouth Pres-ident James Wright addressed the entire university last week. He acknowledged the situation's fragility by saying, "It's hard to know how to provide leadership at a time like this." Last Friday he wrote to the student body that "the College Counseling Office, the Tucker Foundation, the Class Deans, Community Directors and UGAs, Student Life Advisers, and the Employee Assistance Program stand ready to provide support to any student, faculty, or staff member."

Zantop's student said, "aside from all the services, the Earth Sciences department met informally every day at 3 p.m. for a week or two just to be together. This made me feel really supported."

Other outlets for grief were provided by the community hour that occurs each Thursday at the Dartmouth Student Center. Also, the Dartmouth class deans emailed the class lists of both professors, extending offers of support and counseling. The memorial service drew a crowd of 600; overflow was housed in two different locations as the community mourned the loss of the Zantops.

"Right now most people are trying to heal and move on," Zantop's student said.

The response at Yale has been sympathetic, with no discussion of safety concerns. Dean of Yale College Richard Brodhead, BR '68 GRD '72, said, "The murder of two faculty members at Dart-mouth shows us human life in its most hideous and painful aspects. Yale faculty members who knew these professors speak of them with the very highest admiration. It's unclear what institutional precaution, if any, could have prevented this tragedy. Like our colleagues at Dartmouth, whose grief we share, we hope that the mystery of what happened will be quickly solved and those who did this deed brought to justice."

Allison Yang contributed to this article.

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