Concord, New Hampshire - A man who has spent more than half his life in prison for killing his parents when he was 14 will be freed if he completes counseling and learns the skills he'll need to return to society, a state parole board ruled Thursday.
Jeffrey Dingman was barely 14 when he and his older brother, Robert, shot their parents to death as they arrived home from work on Feb. 9, 1996, a Friday afternoon. Testifying against his brother, Jeffrey said the boys hid the bodies in the attic and basement, spent the weekend playing and partying with friends and then returned to school on Monday. They were arrested after their parents' worried co-workers called police.
On Thursday, the parole board members said they were pleased that Jeffrey, now 31, had done well in prison but worried that he lacks the life skills to succeed in society because he went to jail so young. Had the board granted him immediate parole, he would have been released on Feb. 7. When he completes the counseling and meets the other terms of the conditional parole, he'll be released.
Robert Dingman, 17 at the time, is serving a life sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy charges. Jeffrey, who had turned 14 just two weeks before the killings, got 30 years to life in a plea deal that made him eligible for parole now. The state parole board was considering his case for the first time Thursday.
During Robert's 1997 trial, Jeffrey Dingman calmly admitted shooting his parents first but said his brother instigated the killings and finished off both parents, taunting each before firing the fatal shots. He said Robert asked their father, already shot once, “How about another one?” and told his mother “Die, bitch!” before shooting her in the head.
Prosecutors said Robert chafed under his parents' rules and curfews, and Jeffrey described being yelled at repeatedly by his mother and hit by his father over bad grades. But family members described Eve and Vance Dingman, both 40, as devoted parents and said the boys were not abused.
Robert Dingman did not testify at his trial. His lawyers presented no witnesses but argued in opening and closing statements that that Jeffrey fired all the shots and then blamed his brother to save himself.