Parker to plead guilty in the murder of Susanne Zantop
James Parker, one of the two teenagers charged in the murders of two Dartmouth professors, will plead guilty to an adult charge of accomplice to second-degree murder in the death of Susanne Zantop, the N.H. attorney general's office announced earlier this afternoon.
The parties have reached an agreement and a plea hearing has been scheduled before the Grafton County Superior Court on Friday, Dec. 7 at 9 a.m.
"We have reached an agreement with the state of New Hampshire which resolves the case against Jimmy," Parker's lawyer Cathy Green said in a statement.
"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. He is now 17, and will pay a very heavy price for his role in this tragedy," Green noted.
On Friday, the state is expected to present the full terms of the agreement, which would include a proposed sentence; the agreement still has to be approved by a judge.
The attorney general's office could not be reached for further comment.
Parker, 17, of Chelsea Vt., had been initially charged as a juvenile because he was 16 at the time of the murder, but prosecutors were trying to have him certified as an adult. Adult conviction carries a much more severe punishment.
At this point, Parker remains charged with the original charge of first-degree murder, which would be dropped if the plea is accepted.
In a court filing last Friday, the lawyer representing Robert Tulloch, the other teenager charged with the first-degree murder of Half and Susanne Zantop, said that his client will use an insanity defense.
Tulloch, 18, of Chelsea, Vt., will argue he suffers from a "severe mental defect or disease and that his acts were the direct result of the mental defect or disease," public defender Robert Guerriero said in the filing.
Tulloch's trial is set for April 8, 2002 in Grafton County Superior Court.
Dartmouth professors Half and Susanne Zantop were stabbed to death on Jan. 27, 2001 in their Etna home just four miles from campus.
No motive for the crime or connection between the Zantops and the suspects has ever been given publicly, although it is widely speculated that the death was a result of a burglary gone awry.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report).