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Jury deliberates fate of boy accused of killing parents

May 23, 1997

DOVER, N.H. (AP) _ Pulling the trigger of the murder weapon as he stood before the jury, the prosecutor sought to stir passions he claims teen-ager Robert Dingman lacked when he gunned his parents down in cold blood.

Prosecutor John Kacavas asked the jury to visualize a gravely wounded Eve Dingman on the blood-soaked floor of her living room, ``her first-born son standing over her pointing this weapon at her head.″

``Imagine how Eve Dingman must have felt as that defendant said, `Shut up, you bitch,′ and pulled the trigger,″ Kacavas said, making an audible click as he fired the empty .22-caliber pistol.

Kacavas made his plea in closing arguments Thursday to a Strafford County Superior Court jury. The jury deliberated for about four hours Thursday and resumed work today.

The 18-year-old defendant faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder and murder-conspiracy.

``Vance and Eve Dingman worked to put a roof over his head, food on his table, clothes on his back, a bicycle in the garage, a car at his disposal, the computer in his room and a TV in his room,″ Kacavas said. ``And this ingrate didn’t want to lift a finger to help around the house.″

In her closing arguments, defense lawyer Caroline Smith told the jury that Robert’s brother, Jeffrey, then 14, fired all the shots, then lied and cut a deal with prosecutors to save himself. As part of a plea agreement, Jeffrey, now 15, will be released from custody in 18 years.

``Jeffrey Dingman alone shot and killed his father. Jeffrey Dingman alone shot and killed his mother. When he got caught, he sacrificed his brother to save himself,″ Smith said.

Jeffrey, the star prosecution witness, admitted shooting both parents first as they arrived at their modest Rochester home Feb. 9, 1996. But he said Robert instigated the killings and finished off both parents, taunting each first.

Jeffrey testified that his parents, both 40, yelled and pushed him when bad news arrived from school.

But he said Robert also chafed under their parents’ rules, especially their recent refusal to let him buy a cellular telephone. The month before the murders, Robert went from wishing his parents were dead to talking about killing them, Jeffrey said. Friends of Robert supported the statements.

Smith urged jurors not to believe Jeffrey. She cited his claim to police, recanted last week, that Eve’s head moved while the boys were wrapping the bodies in garbage bags.

``Someone who could make that up could say anything,″ Smith said.

Jeffrey testified that after killing their parents, the brothers hid the bodies in the attic and basement, then played with friends and partied over the weekend.

Only when the parents’ worried co-workers called Monday did police investigate and find the bodies.

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