Hamilton firefighter death: 1 of 2 charged has alibi, attorney says

Less than two weeks before trial, the attorney for one of two men charged in the arson fire that killed a Hamilton firefighter says he has an alibi.

William "Billy" 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.

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The uncle, 66-year-old Lester Parker, who is the homeowner, also faces the same charges.

On Monday, Tucker’s defense attorney Tamara Sack filed a motion requesting Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens seal four motions, including a notice of alibi for Tucker.

“The press is present at every court hearing and will no doubt cover the case through its duration. A jury will be empaneled to hear this case and it is necessary to protect the interest of the state and the defense that such information contained in these documents are not made public prior to trial to insure a fair trial for both the state and the defense,” Sack wrote in the motion.

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Other documents requested to be filed under seal are a motion for a defense investigator to be present at trial, a joint entry regarding a jury view and a joint motion for a court reporter.

By law, the defense must provide notice in writing to the prosecution seven days prior to trial if they intend to offer testimony establishing an alibi in the defendant’s behalf.

Stephens sealed all four motions, according to the clerk of courts office.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he could not comment on the substance of sealed motions, including an alleged alibi for Tucker.

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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.”

Parker and Tucker are scheduled to be tried together in a three-week trial set to begin Nov. 6.

Last month, in a motion requesting a jury view, Sack seemed to indicate 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.”

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Sack added the jury view is essential to her client’s constitutional right to “effectively confront the State’s case and to ensure an effective defense especially where timing and location of the crime are at the gravamen of the State’s case against Mr. Tucker.”

That motion was granted by Stephens. The second joint motion for a jury view is under seal, so the specifics will not be known until trial.

Wolterman died when he fell through the home’s first floor while fighting the blaze on Dec. 28, 2015.

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