CONCORD – Jeffrey A. Dingman was granted tentative parole Thursday that requires him to remain in a Manchester halfway house until he meets conditions set down by the state's Adult Parole Board, including getting professional counseling and learning life skills.
"We want you to be ready to reintegrate into society and there are certain things you need to do," Adult Parole Board Chairman Donna Sytek told Dingman during the 30-minute hearing at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men.
Dingman was a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Rochester Middle School when he was first incarcerated for the 1996 murders of his parents, Eve and Vance Dingman. He spent more than 17 years in various prison facilities and transferred to the Calumet halfway house in Manchester about four months ago.
Dingman, 31, has never had a cellphone or bank account in his name, doesn't know how to drive a car or rent an apartment.
He is eligible for parole Feb. 7. The parole board acknowledged Dingman likely will not complete the conditions by that time and would have to remain in the halfway house until the board approves his parole plan.
Dingman's maternal uncle and aunt, Maurice and Elizabeth Landry of Greenfield, supported their nephew's release on parole and said they would help him.
"From the bottom of our hearts, we forgive him and we want to give him a second chance," Elizabeth Landry said.
"You have spent more than half of your life behind bars. But you have done everything that was required of you," Sytek told Dingman, a tall, lean, dark-haired man dressed in a grey suit.
"Because your circumstances are different, we are concerned about how you will succeed on the outside," she added.
Dingman's attorney, Mark Stevens, later said his client is "grateful" and is prepared to meet all conditions the parole board requires.
Dingman pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder in a negotiated deal that required he testify as the state's key witness against his older brother, Robert, then 17.
Robert, 35, is serving life in prison without possibility of parole for two counts of first-degree murder.
Previous story follows:
The 1996 murders of Eve and Vance Dingman became one of the state's first high-profile cases of teen killers, as the public learned the couple's sons had plotted the killings and cruelly taunted the wounded pair as the final bullets were fired into their bodies.
Now, more than 17 years later, younger brother Jeffrey A. Dingman, 31, has his first shot at real freedom.
Dingman has been working in Manchester since July 25 while living at the Calumet halfway house on Lowell Street, state corrections department spokesman Jeffrey Lyons said.
He was 14 when he and his brother, Robert, then 17, murdered their parents inside their Rochester home. Today the state's Adult Parole Board will consider his request to be released from prison when he becomes eligible for parole Feb. 7.
Dingman admitted he and Robert shot their 40-year-old parents with a .22 caliber handgun on Feb. 9, 1996. The negotiated plea required he testify at his brother's first-degree murder trial as the state's key witness.
In exchange, Dingman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a 30-year-to-life prison sentence with 12 years of his minimum sentence suspended, provided he remain on good behavior. Dingman also had earned almost 1 1/3 years of pre-trial credit — 505 days — when he was sentenced July 2, 1997, which was deducted from his minimum sentence, Lyons said Wednesday.
Robert V. Dingman, 35, was convicted of first-degree murders for killing his parents and sentenced to life without possibility of parole in 1997. Since then, he has been incarcerated at New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord, Lyons said.
Jeffrey Dingman testified at the Strafford County Superior Court trial that he and his brother killed their parents because they "didn't like 'em." Robert resented the curfews and other restrictions his parents placed on him.
The younger Dingman said he fired first at his father when Vance Dingman came home from work. "Want another one?" he said his brother, Robert, said before shooting his father a second time.
Jeffrey testified he shot his mother "two or three times" when she came home from work, but turned his head away when his brother stood over her and fired a final round into her head, saying "Die bitch," as she tried to crawl away.
The brothers wrapped their parents' bodies in garbage bags and duct tape. They put their father's corpse in the attic and their mother's in the basement. They stayed in the house part of the weekend and went to school on Monday. Police found the bodies after Eve Dingman's co-workers called to say they were worried she hadn't shown up for work.
Robert Dingman's defense attorneys claimed Jeffrey killed the couple, and Robert only helped him cover it up.
Jeffrey Dingman and his attorney, Mark Stevens of Salem, will present their case for parole before the three-member parole board chaired by former House Speaker Donna Sytek. Mark E. Furlone, a retired New Hampshire State Police trooper, and Derry lawyer M. Kathryn McCarroll also will preside.
Corrections staff prepared a package for the board that evaluates Dingman's record in prison, whether he met all the criteria required of him and what risk he might pose to the public if released on parole, parole board executive assistant Andrea J. Goldberg said.
"Parole is a privilege, not a right," Goldberg explained. "We want to ensure that we have a proper evaluation to ensure the community is safe."
The staff's evaluation package recommends Dingman be paroled, she said.
But, she added, "that is just one piece of the puzzle."
The parole board also will want to ensure a "suitable parole plan" is in place and will listen to testimony and statements given by those representing the victims and those advocating for Dingman, Goldberg said.
Dingman served most of his prison term in Pennsylvania, corrections spokesman Lyons said.
He returned to New Hampshire in Oct. 22, 2011, where he was incarcerated at the state prison in Concord, then transferred to the minimum security facility on state prison grounds Jan. 16, before coming to Manchester in July.