Tulloch Will Change Plea in Dartmouth Murder Cases

04/02/02 12:00AM

(Host) Robert Tulloch plans to change his plea of innocent by reason of insanity in the murders of two Dartmouth professors. Tulloch is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the January 2001 stabbing deaths of Half and Susanne Zantop in their Hanover home. He's expected to plead either guilty or no contest to the crimes. The 18-year old from Chelsea is accused of killing the couple with 17-year old James Parker. Parker is charged with one count of accomplice to second-degree murder.

Peter DeCato is a New Hampshire lawyer who handles criminal cases. Decato says once lawyers for Parker reached a plea agreement with authorities last year, additional information about the murders emerged. He says Tulloch's lawyers may have decided to change their client's plea based on the new information:

(DeCato) "There's a saying in the law that if you have bad facts, argue he law. If you have bad law, argue the facts. They may have determined that they had neither good facts nor good law."

(Host) DeCato says Tulloch's lawyers may have decided that even though they still had a chance of winning with an insanity defense, they may want to avoid a jury trial.

(DeCato) "My guess is that the chances of pulling this off were so slim that upon balance he wanted to save his family, his friends and so forth from going through the public trial."

(Host) Tulloch will enter his new plea Thursday in New Hampshire. Since the charges carry mandatory life imprisonment, the judge may hand down a sentence at that time Parker is already scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

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