The Dartmouth Murders
Interviews with Investigators
Before the plea deal was made public, Rob's attorneys announced that he would plead not guilty by reason of insanity. In late November 2001, his attorneys filed a motion stating that psychiatrists had found that their client suffered from a "serious mental illness" and that "his acts were the direct result of the mental defect or disease."
On December 7, 2001, Jim appeared before Judge Peter W. Smith to formalize the plea bargain. To determine if Jim was competent to make this decision, Judge Smith asked if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Apparently mistaking the question for one about drug use in general, Jim replied in a vehement voice, "Never." As Francis noted, "It was an unusual point of pride for somebody who was moments away from admitting to having stabbed another human being to death."
A few minutes later, Jim was asked how he pled. He answered, "Guilty."
The plea agreement depended on Jim telling investigators the entire story of his and Rob's criminal activities.
In interviews with investigators published in The Union Leader, Jim said that, although he and Rob had the grades for college, they had decided against it because they thought it was too confining. Both yearned to travel. They discussed going to Europe or New Zealand but settled on settled on Australia as their destination. Jim said they were attracted to Australia because it possesses varied natural environment and good places for rock climbing. There they thought they might be able to support themselves as hired assassins or live off the land.
The teens calculated that they would need about $10,000 for both airfare to Australia and enough money to last a year. Jim said they rejected raising funds through legitimate means; crime was easier and faster and they thought they could get away with crimes because "we were smarter than everybody else."