NH Supreme Court rules 4 teen killers entitled to sentencing hearings
The state Supreme Court Friday ruled four of the state’s most high-profile teen killers now serving mandatory life sentences without possibility of parole are entitled to sentencing hearings where they could present evidence to reduce their time in prison.
In the unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that U.S. Supreme Court Miller v. Alabama decision entitled Robert Dingman, Eduardo Lopez Jr., Robert Tulloch and Michael Soto to retroactive review of their sentences.
All four were 17-year-old juveniles when they committed crimes of homicides for which each had been convicted. Each was found guilty of first-degree murder and automatically sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole as required by law.
In Miller v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional automatic life prison terms without chance of parole for juvenile murderers violated the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The court said juvenile offenders are “children” and constitute a class of offender “constitutionally different from adults” in terms of sentencing.
Tulloch, 31, formerly of Chelsea, Vt., pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the 2001 slayings of married Dartmouth College professors Half and Susanne Zantop inside their Hanover home.
Dingman, 34, was convicted with his younger brother of the 1996 murders of their parents, Vance and Eve Dingman, in their Rochester home.
Soto, 25, was convicted of accomplice to first-degree murder in the June, 2007 shooting death of Aaron Kar in Manchester.
Lopez, 39, was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the 1991 shooting and robbery of Robert Goyette in Nashua.