Zeller faces trial for attempted murder

by Elysa Jacobs | 5/27/96 5:00am

A non-matriculating member of the Class of 1999, who allegedly tried to kill his father last summer because his parents refused to pay for his higher education, is pending trial in Maryland.

Sean Zeller is accused of intentionally running over his father with the family van after his parents allegedly refused to pay $300,000 for Dartmouth tuition and medical school, according to an Associated Press article.

Dean of First-Year Students Peter Goldsmith confirmed that Zeller "did not matriculate." Goldsmith also said a very small number of students simply do not show up to the College every year after agreeing to attend.

Zeller could not matriculate at the College because he was in jail, said Allen Wolf, Zeller's lawyer.

"There was a car accident and there were questions about whether it was accidental on Sean's part or not," Wolf said.

Zeller's trial is being delayed for 11 days. Assistant State's Attorney Constance Junghans, the prosecuting attorney, requested the delay in order to examine additional documents she claims links Zeller to the crime, according to the AP.

Wolf is protesting the delay.

"The delay would be unfair because he has been waiting in jail since August," Wolf said "He was arrested on August 30th and has been in jail since that point."

Zeller claims he hit his father accidentally, but the prosecution claims Zeller acted with malicious intent, according to the AP.

Wolf said Zeller recorded many of the conversations he had with his parents during the summer on a pocket-size tape recorder.

Junghans plans to present the audio tapes Zeller made, the AP stated.

Zeller told his mother in one tape, "I want to get rid of you. You have no right to keep the money I'm going to use to go to Dartmouth," according to the AP.

"You're being a hard-headed idiot and refusing to do what you're ordered to do," he said, according to the AP. "What do you think is going to happen to you, to the two of you -- you and it?"

Wolf said Zeller's mother and father both testified that they never refused to pay for Zeller's education at the College.

"There were arguments over the summer with the family over the cost and when they would see bills," Wolf said. "The parents had every intention of paying."

Wolf said the quotes are not significant evidence against his client.

"The quotes are from an entirely different date [from the car accident]," Wolf said. "It was an argument about living in the house. It was only with his mother not with the father at all."

Wolf said Zeller does not know what his future plans are at this point in time.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Karl Furstenberg said Zeller would have to re-apply to the College in order to attend at any point in the future because he failed to meet the deadline to defer his acceptance.

Furstenberg said committing a crime does not automatically eliminate candidates from being accepted to the College.

Michael Bruno '99, who was assigned to be Zeller's freshman year roommate, said he spoke with Zeller by telephone during the last week of August.

"He didn't mention anything about problems at home," Bruno said. "He called me. We just discussed things like who was bringing up what."

Bruno said he only recently learned why Zeller never showed up at the beginning of school.

"I was shocked when I found out," Bruno said. "I could have been living with this person that might have tried to kill his father."

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