Teen to plead guilty in slayings of Dartmouth professors; co-defendant awaits trial

Monday, December 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ One of the two teen-agers charged with murdering two Dartmouth College professors agreed Monday to plead guilty as an accomplice in one of the deaths.

James Parker, 17, will plead guilty to an adult charge of accomplice to second-degree murder in the death of Susanne Zantop, according to the attorney general's office and defense attorneys. The first-degree murder charges are expected to be dropped.

``Jimmy has made the decision to accept responsibility for his actions, and is hopeful that his plea will enable his family and that of the Zantops to begin the healing process,'' defense attorney Cathy Green said. ``He is now 17, and will pay a very heavy price for his role in this tragedy.''

The accomplice charge carries a sentence of up to life in prison. The agreement still must be approved by a judge, and a hearing was scheduled for Friday.

Last week, the attorney for the other suspect, Robert Tulloch, 18, said he will use an insanity defense when trial begins April 8.

Parker and Tulloch were both charged with first-degree murder in the Jan. 27 stabbing deaths of Zantop and her husband, Half, in their Hanover home. Half Zantop, 62, taught earth sciences at Dartmouth and Susanne Zantop, 55, was the chairwoman of the German studies department.

Parker was 16 at the time of the slayings, Tulloch 17.

Authorities have not offered a motive for the crime or any connection between the Zantops and the suspects, who live about 25 miles away in Chelsea, Vt. The teens disappeared from their hometown in February, sparking a manhunt that ended with their capture at an Indiana truck stop.

Prosecutors say fingerprints and footprints at the home link the teens to the murders. Court documents also say two military-style knives stained with the victims' blood were found in Tulloch's bedroom.