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Court permits cameras in Dartmouth murder case

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    NMU         NEW HAMPSHIRE         Broadcasting         Apr 5, 2002    

Court permits cameras in Dartmouth murder case

  • The New Hampshire Supreme Court granted an emergency motion allowing camera coverage of a plea hearing in a trial involving the murder of two Dartmouth College professors, lifting a lower court’s ban.

In an emergency order issued on April 3, the New Hampshire Supreme Court granted journalists with cameras and tape recorders access to a hearing involving a teenager charged with killing two Ivy League professors. The decision came a day before the hearing was scheduled to take place.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ordered Grafton County Superior Court Judge Peter Smith to allow audio and video recording of the proceedings.

In its order, the high court stated that electronic equipment would be allowed because “the proceedings to which the petitioners seek media access is not a jury trial, but rather is a hearing on a plea to an offense that carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole.”

Half and Suzanne Zantop were stabbed to death by Robert Tulloch and James Parker on Jan. 27, 2000, in the Zantop’s Hanover home near the Dartmouth campus.

Parker,17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a deal with prosecutors to testify against Tulloch,18. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years.

Several media outlets including The Boston Globe and Court TV filed the petition to allow cameras in the courtroom for Tulloch’s trial, but Smith rejected it on March 8, saying that jurors might be distracted by the presence of cameras.

But Tulloch avoided trial when, against his lawyers’ advice, he changed his plea from not guilty by reason of insanity to guilty. He was sentenced April 4 to life in prison.

(Petition of WBZ-TV; Media Counsel: James Bassett) KC

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