Jan. trial is set for teen in killing of professors

Prosecution's request for later date granted

May 24, 2001|By BOSTON GLOBE

LANCASTER, N.H. - A Superior Court judge says the murder trial of 18-year-old Robert Tulloch, charged with killing two Dartmouth College professors, should begin in January.

While lawyers for Tulloch sought a November trial date, Judge Peter W. Smith granted the prosecution's request for a later tentative date because of the complexity of the case.

Tulloch and James J. Parker, both of Chelsea, Vt., were arrested three weeks after the bodies of Half and Susanne Zantop were found Jan. 27 in the couple's home in Etna, N.H., near the Dartmouth campus. Both teen-agers were charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths.

In a May 1 hearing, Tulloch pleaded innocent to the charges.

Because Parker was 16 at the time of the killings, his case is now in the New Hampshire juvenile court system, but the state attorney general's office has petitioned to have him tried as an adult.

Parker turns 17 today and will be transferred from the juvenile facility in Concord, N.H., where he has been held since his arrest, to an adult prison.

Most of yesterday's hearing centered on whether Tulloch should be forced to provide investigators samples of his hair, blood and handwriting.

Prosecutors have contended that they need the samples to complete their analysis of evidence recovered at the scene, from Tulloch's home and from cars belonging to Parker and to Tulloch's mother.

In making a formal request for the samples last month, prosecutors said they had found evidence of blood from an unidentified male at the murder scene and wanted to see if it matched Tulloch's. Tulloch suffered a gash to his right knee about the time of the killings and told friends that it had occurred while he was walking down a riverbank near his home.

A sample of Tulloch's handwriting was needed to compare with the writing on notes seized by investigators in their searches of the suspects' homes, as well as from Parker's car, prosecutors said.

Susanne Zantop's blood was found on two knives allegedly used in the killings, and evidence of Half Zantop's blood was on one of the knives. The knives, according to police affidavits, were recovered in Tulloch's bedroom under a stack of magazines three weeks after the professors were found dead.

Tulloch's public defenders Barbara Keshen and Richard Guerriero did not dispute the physical evidence at the hearing but attacked the legality of the request, saying it violated Tulloch's constitutional right against self-incrimination.

"The state is asking that [Tulloch] furnish parts of his own body to be used against him," Keshen said.

But lead prosecutor Kelly A. Ayotte said, "This is a standard request made by the state in any homicide case."

Fifth Amendment privileges are applicable only to testimonial evidence, Ayotte told Smith. She added that she had no problem with Tulloch's lawyers being present when the samples are taken.

Smith said he would make a decision on the samples by June 4.

The trial is scheduled to be heard in Grafton County Court in North Haverhill, N.H.

Ayotte said she expects the trial to last three to four weeks.

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