Hamilton firefighter death trial: Tears, screams fill courtroom as defense calls first witness

The courtroom filled with sobbing and screaming Wednesday during testimony of the defense’s first witness 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.

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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.

Kim Brooks, a former girlfriend of Tucker’s, was called to the stand by Tamara Sack, Tucker’s defense attorney. She along with another woman drive to Richmond, Ky., on Dec. 27, 2015, to pick up Tucker.

Brooks said she arranged with Courtney Basinger to pick up Tucker at a CVS pharmacy. She said Tucker was going to get some pills and pay Basinger with some.

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When Tucker got in the car in Richmond, Brooks said he did not have anything in his hands. Basinger previously testified he had a bag.

The trio drove to Hamilton until Tucker told them, “pull over here,” Brooks said. “Here” was Grand Boulevard in Hamilton.

When Tucker returned 20 minutes later, he had pills, but nothing else, Brooks said.

Basinger, however, testified Tucker was carrying a gas can when he returned.

“He did not have a gas can … he did not smell of smoke, did not smell of gas?” Sack asked Brooks. She answered, “No.”

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Brooks said she and Tucker then stayed at her cousin’s house and later at motels around Hamilton.

“I thought we were going to get back together,” Brooks said.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser pressed Brooks about some of the social media messages she exchanged with Tucker. Those messages seemed to ask him about what he was going to do in Hamilton.

“I don’t lie,” Brooks said in an elevated voice.

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At one point, Brooks turned to Detective Matt Fishwick, who was seated at the prosecution table, and said, “He didn’t have nothing. Everybody asked me to say he brought a bag. I told them time and time again, he didn’t have a bag.”

Sack had to calm Tucker down when Gmoser questioned Brooks about domestic violence issues between the two.

Brooks sobbed when the attorneys met with the judge for a side bar. She had just told Gmoser that he was lying when he questioned her about knowing that Tucker was coming to Hamilton to start the fire.

“You are upsetting me,” she told Gmoser.”

Gmoser continued to point out inconsistencies in Brooks’ statements on the witness stand and her previous statements to police.

Brooks said Tucker was supposed to get money from selling pills and that she didn’t know anything about him starting a fire.

“I am not trying to protect him, I don’t want nothing to do with him,” Brooks said, sobbing again.

The prosecution rested their case earlier Wednesday with two expert witnesses testifying about cell phone transmission and Facebook messages.

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