(Host) More than a year of legal proceedings came to a swift conclusion Thursday when Robert Tulloch and James Parker were sentenced for the murders of two Dartmouth College professors. The random killings of the popular professors and the arrests of the two Chelsea, Vermont teenagers last year were a shock to the twin-state region.
The case drew attention from around the country, as evidenced by the packed courtroom for today’s sentencing.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports.
(Judge) "Mr. Tulloch: to the indictment in case #20001S191 ¿ the State of New Hampshire vs. Robert Tulloch alleging that you purposely caused the death of Half Zantop ¿ how do you plead?"
(Zind) As anticipated, Robert Tulloch changed his plea to guilty from innocent by reason of insanity. Tulloch’s attorney said the decision was made by the 18 year old Chelsea youth against his lawyer’s advice. Then Assistant Attorney General Kelly Ayotte laid out the prosecution’s case. She described how Tulloch and his best friend, 17 year old James Parker, planned to steal $10,000 and flee to Australia. Ayotte said it was Tulloch’s idea to commit the murders. As an expressionless Tulloch listened, Ayotte detailed how the two boys had stabbed Half and Susanne Zantop to death in their Hanover home.
Before the sentence was announced, the Zantop’s daughter Veronika rose and addressed the court. Her sister Marianne stood silently by her side:
(Veronika Zantop) "There’s no statement in the entire world that can capture the absolute horror, disbelief, pain, sadness and anger that I, my sister and our family and friends have experienced since my parents were murdered. Nothing that can capture the magnitude and the grief."
(Zind) Throughout the proceeding, Tulloch said nothing beyond his brief answers to the judge. He showed no emotion when the sentence was announced:
(Judge) "Mr. Tulloch, you are sentenced to two concurrent life terms at the New Hampshire State Prison without the possibility of parole."
(Zind) A few hours later James Parker was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for his role in the murders. Parker had agreed to testify against Tulloch in return for a reduced sentence. Parker broke down as the Zantop’s daughter spoke to the court.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Haverhill, New Hampshire.