Court sentences Parker to 25 years to life

by Rachel Osterman and Jennifer Thomas | 4/4/02 5:00am

NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. -- A tearful James J. Parker received a sentence of 25 years to life in prison this afternoon after having pleaded guilty in December to the second-degree murder of Dartmouth professors Half and Susanne Zantop.

In contrast to stone-faced Robert Tulloch, who sat emotionlessly at his own sentencing just four hours before, a remorseful Parker listened to the same statements by Zantop family and friends with tears streaming down his face.

Though Tulloch, 18, chose not to speak this morning, 17-year-old Parker told the courtroom that he was sorry before Judge Peter Smith pronounced his sentence.

"There's not much more I can say than that," he said. "I'm just really sorry."

Using his arm to wipe off tears, Parker listened as Veronika Zantop -- daughter of the murdered professors -- told him, "There's no statement in the entire world that can capture the absolute horror, disbelief, sadness and anger that I, my sister, my family and friends" are experiencing.

The Zantop daughters, German professor and close friend of the Zantops Irene Kacandes and family friend Jim Zien all gave the same statements at Parker's hearings that they presented at Tulloch's. Zien, however, told Parker that while he was right to cooperate with prosecutors in the case, his complicity in slaying the Zantops is beyond forgiveness.

Parker's parents, who were in the courtroom during the sentencing, apologized to the community in a press conference following the hearing.

Tulloch and Parker stabbed the Zantops to death in their Etna, N.H., home on Jan. 27, 2001 after posing as students conducting an environmental survey.

According to prosecutors, the Zantop home was the fifth to be visited by the teens in the six months leading up to the murders. The pair planned to steal ATM cards and PIN numbers, kill witnesses and then use the money to flee to Australia.