Woman tells jury she gave ride to Hamilton arson suspect for $300 in pills

A witness who put William “Billy” Tucker near the scene of the fire that killed Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman in December 2015, testified Thursday that she picked him up at a Richmond, Ky., CVS pharmacy and drove him to Hamilton’s East side in exchange for pills.

Tucker, 46, and his uncle Lester Parker, 67, are both charged with arson and murder in the fire at Parker’s Pater Avenue home that killed Wolterman on Dec. 28, 2015.

For $40 in gas and a promise of pain pills, Courtney Basinger said she made the two-hour trip to Richmond on Dec. 27, 2015, with three children and Tucker’s girlfriend to give him a ride to Hamilton.

Once back in Hamilton during the early morning hours of Dec. 28, the Liberty Twp. resident said Tucker told her they were going to “the Knob” and instructed her to drive to and then pull over on Grand Avenue.

“He got out of the car with the bag,” Basinger told the jury during the fourth day of trial in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

“He said he would be back in about 20 minutes, to wait for him,” she said, adding that Tucker walked toward Pater Avenue. “He seemed like he was in a hurry.”

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When Tucker returned to the car, he had a gas can, Basinger said.

“He was out of breath,” she told the jury.

Tucker then unrolled a paper towel and gave her 10 opioid pills that she estimated were worth $30 each.

It was not until a year later that Basinger said she realized Tucker may have been involved in the fatal arson.

“I didn’t realize until the detective knocked on the door,” she said.

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But during cross examination by Tucker’s defense attorney, Basinger admitted that before police questioned her, a friend had told her to go to the authorities with details about the car ride.

The defense also pointed out other contradictions in Basinger’s testimony.

Tucker’s defense attorney, Tamara Sack, played a tape of Basinger telling a detective in November 2017 that Tucker also had a pad lock with him when he returned to the car that night.

Parker’s defense attorney, David Washington, questioned Basinger about her drug use on the night she dropped Tucker off as well as the year that followed.

She admitted she may not have been clear headed at the time, saying that in December 2015 she was addicted to meth and opioids but has been clean for the past 10 months.

“Where you concerned about him spilling gas in your car,” Washington asked Basinger.

She answered, “No, the only thing I cared about was the pills.”

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