By: Harry R. Weber, Associated Press Writer
(AP) A judge on Friday rejected a request from seven news organizations that cameras be allowed in the courtroom during the trial of a teen-ager charged in the slayings of two Dartmouth College professors.
Superior Court Judge Peter Smith said cameras in the courtroom could affect 18-year-old Robert Tulloch’s right to a fair trial.
“While it is likely that most, if not all, jurors will not take notice of electronic equipment in the courtroom, petitioners cannot guarantee that some jurors may not be affected by the presence of cameras,” Smith wrote.
Smith has had a firm policy since 1995 of not allowing cameras in his courtroom in any case.
Tulloch and James Parker, 17, both of Chelsea, Vt., are accused of fatally stabbing Half and Susanne Zantop in their Hanover home on Jan. 27, 2001. Parker pleaded guilty to reduced charges and agreed to testify against Tulloch, who plans to use an insanity defense in his trial.
The trial is set to begin April 22.
The petition was filed on behalf of The Boston Globe, Court TV, New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters, Massachusetts Association of Broadcasters, WBZ-TV, WBZ-AM radio, and WMUR-TV.
James Bassett, a lawyer for the news organizations, said he would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court and ask for an expedited ruling.
“Unfortunately, as a consequence of the court’s order, only those very few citizens who are able to squeeze into the Grafton County courtroom will be able to exercise their constitutional right to observe the upcoming trial,” Bassett’s law firm said in a statement.