Cell phone records and social media messages were front and center Tuesday as the prosecution presented evidence in the trial of two men charged with arson and murder in the 2015 death of Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman.
William “Billy” Tucker, 46, of Richmond, Ky., and his uncle Lester Parker, 67, are charged with arson and murder in the fire at Parker’s Pater Avenue home that killed Wolterman on Dec. 28, 2015.
Prosecutors say Parker was “under water” financially in the fall of 2015 and hatched a plan to set the house on fire for insurance money. Tucker agreed to light the fire in exchange for pain pills, according to prosecutors.
Parker and his wife, Bertha, left Hamilton on the afternoon of Dec. 27, 2015, and were in Las Vegas when fire consumed the residence at 1310 Pater Avenue during the early morning hours of Dec. 28.
Hamilton Police Sgt. Matt Fishwick testified about evidence he found in a home the Parkers occupied after the fire. That home was just a few doors down from 1310 Pater Ave.
Fishwick said pictures of 1310 Pater Ave. taken by Parker before the Las Vegas trip show a handmade log cabin, a butler statue and photos of the Parkers’ daughters in the living room. A year later, the same items were found at 1304 Pater, where the Parkers were living, Fishwick said.
Last week, the Parkers’ younger daughter Cheryl Sullivan said she noticed items — including the pictures — missing from her parent’s house when she picked them up to take them to the airport on Dec. 27, 2015. She testified her father later told her the items had been in the garage.
In the days leading up to the fire, Fishwick testified that Parker called Tucker’s brother, Stacy Parker’s, cell phone several times and had a 30-minute conversation on one occasion. Fishwick said through his investigation he learned Tucker often did not have his own cell phone and used other peoples’ phones.
Parker also called Stacy Tucker in the hours after the fire, according to records. During his testimony, Stacy Tucker confirmed he received calls from Parker stating he was looking for Tucker the day of the fire.
On Dec. 30, 2015, a pre-paid cell phone with a Las Vegas number called the pay phone across the street from the Cove Motel in Hamilton. That is where Tucker was staying with his girlfriend Kim Brooks, according to Fishwick.
The prosecution also highlighted Facebook messages between accounts registered to Tucker, Brooks and Tucker’s former girlfriend, Linda Rose.
In one message to Brooks, Tucker said he needed a ride to Hamilton on Dec. 27.
“I have something very important to take care of,” the message read.
There was also discussion about payment for the ride with pills. Fishwick said Parker had prescriptions for both Valium and opioids.
During cross examination by Parker’s defense attorney, David Washington, Fishwick said he did not know want was discussed in the phone calls in the days leading up to the fire or the days after between Parker and family members.
“You don’t know what they were talking about, would that be fair?” Washington asked Fishwick.
“No, I don’t know what was said,” he answered.
Washington also pointed out Fishwick does not know for sure that Tucker picked up the pay phone across the street from the Cove Motel.
The defense also took shots at the evidence prosecutors say was removed from Parker’s house before the fire. Washington pointed out Parker may have been establishing an office in the garage behind the residence, which is why the items were moved.
When Parker and Fishwick went to get items out of the garage in 2o16, Washington noted Parker did not try to hide the items from the detective.
Washington also emphasized that the information police received about the arson came from people with drug problems.
Tucker’s defense attorney, Tamara Sack, indicated in previous court filings that her client has an alibi. Tucker will also be called to the stand to testify in his own behalf. Brooks is also listed as a witness by the defense.