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Accused Killer Challenges Laboratory

January 3, 2002

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ Lawyers for a teen-ager accused of killing two Dartmouth College professors argued in court filings that forensic evidence in the case is unreliable because the state police laboratory is not accredited.

Robert Tulloch’s lawyers challenged whether the laboratory’s test results should be used during his trial, scheduled for April 8.

Defense attorney Barbara Keshen asked the court to order the state to release information on testing mistakes, the lab’s failure rate and proficiency testing conducted by lab criminalists.

Prosecutors have not yet filed a response to the motion, which was released Wednesday. Forensic evidence, particularly DNA evidence, is a central part of the prosecution’s case.

The motion does not cite any specific case involving the lab, and Tulloch’s lawyers declined to elaborate when contacted.

Laboratory director Timothy Pifer said he is working to get the lab accredited, but the process takes time and money. The lab’s DNA section passed an audit last fall, and test results have proven reliable countless times, he said.

Thirty to 35 states and nearly every federal crime laboratory are accredited, according to the American Society of Criminal Laboratory Directors, a national accreditation agency.

Tulloch, 18, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Half and Susanne Zantop, who were stabbed to death last year in their Hanover home.

Tulloch plans to use an insanity defense. His friend, James Parker, has pleaded guilty in the death of Susanne Zantop and agreed to testify against Tulloch.

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