William “Billy” Tucker and his uncle Lester Parker were in court Friday for a final hearing before their murder, arson trial begins today in Butler County Common Pleas Court.
Tucker, 46, of Richmond, Ky., is charged with two counts of aggravated arson and murder for allegedly starting a fire at his uncle’s Pater Avenue residence, where firefighter Patrick Wolterman died in December 2015. Parker, the homeowner faces the same charges.
Final motions were hashed out in chambers and briefly put on the record. The use of a nickname of a witness was declared moot apparently resolved by both sides and Judge Greg Stephens overruled a motion filed by Tamara Sack, Tucker’s attorney, to have the defense investigator at the table with her during the trial. The price tag for her services would have been $50 an hour and the trial is scheduled for three weeks.
Two weeks ago, Sack filed four motions under seal, including one notice of alibi for Tucker.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he could not comment on the substance of sealed motions, including an alleged alibi for Tucker.
But he said he stands by the indictment.
“I plan on proving this case as if he was there and set the fire and he did so after being solicited by Lester Parker,” Gmoser said. “I stand by our allegations and we intend to prove every single one of them.”
Other motions filed seem to indicate there is a witness that can put Tucker at or near the scene of the fire.
Last month, in a motion requesting a jury view, Sack indicated there was a witness that could place Tucker at the scene of the fire.
Sack requested Stephens grant a jury view of the scene at 1310 Pater Ave.
In the motion, Sack said jury view of the scene is material to facts of the indictment specifically “regarding the location of the fire … leading to Grand Avenue at the location where the State’s witness alleges the defendant (Tucker) left the vehicle and headed on foot to the 1310 Pater Ave. location.”
The judge has called for 125 prospective jurors and selection will begin this afternoon in a large courtroom on the second floor of the Butler County Government Services Center. Stephens said a jury will be selected on Monday and the jury will view the scene on Tuesday morning.
Wolterman died when he fell through the home’s first floor while fighting the blaze on Dec. 28, 2015.