Court sentences Tulloch on conspiracy charge

by Ithan Peltan | 5/29/02 5:00am

A judge today sentenced Robert Tulloch to 15 to 30 years in prison for murder conspiracy in the deaths of Half and Susanne Zantop. The Vermont teen is already serving two life sentences without parole for the murders of the Dartmouth professors.

Yesterday's ruling was the result of a plea bargain Tulloch, 19, reached with prosecutors that will prevent him from profiting from the couple's death through movie or publishing deals. In exchange, Tulloch will avoid a restitution hearing.

The Chelsea, Vt., native pleaded guilty in April to the conspiracy charge and to two counts of first-degree murder and is already serving out two life sentences on the latter charges.

Michael Ramsdell, the former chief of the state attorney general's homicide unit, said such a deal was unusual.

"Very few cases present the possibility of the defendant reaping any financial rewards from his conviction," Ramsdell said. Unlike some other states, New Hampshire has no statute preventing convicted criminals from profiting by selling book or film rights to their exploits.

The maximum penalty for a murder conspiracy conviction is 30 years in prison.

James Parker, now 18, Tulloch's accomplice in the murders, has also made a similar agreement with the state. Parker's statements to prosecutors -- given in exchange for reduced charges -- lead to the conspiracy charges against Tulloch.

Today's sentencing at the Grafton County Superior Court in North Haverhill, N.H., marks the end of the criminal cases against Tulloch and Parker.

"It's a good feeling to have some closure ... but it really doesn't change the pain that Mariana and Veronika felt," Senior Assistant Attorney General Kelly Ayotte told the Associated Press. "You wish you could do more, because they lost their parents."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.