Tulloch trial date set for next January

by Maggie Shnayerson | 5/25/01 5:00am

One of two Vermont teenagers charged in the slayings of College professors Susanne and Half Zantop, Robert Tulloch, is slated to face trial in January, officials announced.

Though the defense sought an earlier trial date of November, Coos County Superior Court Judge Peter Smith sided with the prosecution, which argues that it needed more time to prepare, given the complex nature of the case.

Tulloch, now 18, and James Parker, who turned 17 yesterday, are charged with first degree murder in the January 27 stabbing deaths of the couple in their Etna Home.

Investigators are not releasing any information about a possible motive for the killings, but have implied they are considering thrill-killing or a burglary gone awry as potential driving forces for the brutal deaths.

The judge also heard arguments this week regarding the prosecution's request that Tulloch hand over blood, hair and handwriting samples to the state.

Defense attorneys argued that such a move would violate their client's right against self-incrimination.

"The state is asking Mr. Tulloch to relinquish parts of his own body ... and then take the risk that the state will use that evidence against him," public defender Barbara Keshen told reporters.

"It's against the principles of the constitution. At some point, a judge has to say no," Keshen continued.

But the constitutional amendment protecting citizens against self-incrimination has historically only been applied to testimony, Senior Assistant Attorney General Kelly Ayotte pointed out.

"The taking of blood samples and handwriting exemplars is not a violation," she said.

The samples are needed, New Hampshire argues, to compare with evidence found at the crime scene and in Tulloch's bedroom.

Parker was held at a juvenile facility in Concord until his 17th birthday yesterday, when he was moved to an adult prison in Laconia.

Prosecutors are seeking Parker's certification to stand trial as an adult for the crime he committed as a minor.

Parker's lawyer hopes to delay the certification hearing for several months in order to allow for evidence-gathering by his team.

The hearing, which was started in Grafton County, has been moved north to Coos County, as the judge presides over the latter for much of the time.

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