Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - In this May 19, 1997, file photo., Robert Dingman leaves Strafford County Superior Court in Dover, N.H., at the end of the sixth day of his first-degree murder trial. The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled Friday Aug. 29, 2014, that Dingman should receive new sentencing hearings in light of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life sentences for juvenile killers is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, FIle)
NH high court: New sentence hearings in killings
First Published Aug 29 2014 11:18 am • Last Updated Aug 29 2014 11:18 am

Concord, N.H. • Four men convicted of murder as teenagers should receive new sentencing hearings in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that mandatory life sentences for juvenile are unconstitutional, New Hampshire’s Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The New Hampshire high court’s unanimous ruling mandates new sentencing hearings for Robert Tulloch, Robert Dingman and two others who were under the age of 18 when they committed their crimes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Tulloch was convicted in the 2001 stabbing deaths of two Dartmouth College professors. Dingman killed his parents in 1996 rather than abide by curfews and other house rules.

Prosecutors argued that the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 should not be applied retroactively, noting that all four convicted killers had exhausted their appeals.

But the state’s high court ruled Friday that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling was so significant that it should be applied retroactively.

Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Woodcock, who argued against holding new sentencing hearings, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the decision and whether her office would seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Friday’s ruling also applies to Eduardo Lopez Jr., convicted of shooting a man during a robbery in Nashua in 1991, and Michael Soto, who supplied the gun used in a Manchester street shooting in 2007. All four were 17 at the time of the killings for which they are now serving mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole.

In its 2012 ruling, the nation’s highest court said that children are more likely to be impetuous, don’t fully appreciate risks and are vulnerable to peer pressure and home environment. The ruling did not bar life sentences for juvenile killers, but said judges must weigh factors that may lead to imposition of a lesser sentence.

Chief appellate defender Christopher Johnson said Friday he does not know when resentencing hearings might be held for the four, and that scheduling will be delayed if the Attorney General’s office seeks a review.

New Hampshire’s justices upheld a lower court ruling last year granting the four new sentencing hearings. The state had appealed that ruling.

story continues below
story continues below

Tulloch is one of two Chelsea, Vermont, teens convicted of stabbing to death Dartmouth professors Half and Susanne Zantop in their home. James Parker, pleaded guilty to being an accomplice to murder and is serving 25 years to life.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union was one of more than a dozen organizations to weigh in on the case. Legal director Gilles Bissonnette applauded Friday’s ruling but decried the fact that all four could still wind up with life sentences.

"This is not only wrong, but the United States is the only country in the world that engages in this cruel practice of locking children up for life," Bissonnette said.

Prosecutors last year agreed to a resentencing hearing for Steven Spader, who was convicted of hacking to death a Mont Vernon woman with a machete when he was 17. Spader instructed his lawyers not to put on evidence, and he received his original sentence of life without parole plus 76 years for related crimes.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.