Trial begins for 2 men charged with arson, murder after firefighter dies
HAMILTON, Ohio (WKRC) - The prosecutor says money was the motive for setting a fire that killed a Hamilton firefighter. Attorneys for the two men charged say the evidence doesn't support that.
Testimony began Tuesday in the trial of Lester Parker and William Tucker, who are charged with murder and arson in the death of Patrick Wolterman.
It was nearly two years ago, when firefighter Patrick Wolterman died fighting a house fire. Now, the men charged with what prosecutors say was a scheme are going on trial for arson and murder. On Tuesday, attorneys for both sides gave jurors a preview of what they will hear during the trial.
During his opening statement, Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told jurors it was Lester Parker who hatched a plan. He would have his nephew Billy Tucker set fire to his Pater Avenue home. Parker would collect the insurance money and Tucker would get Parker's pills.
Gmoser said it was simple greed. Parker's attorney, David Washington, said Parker had nothing to do with what happened.
Tucker's attorney, Tamara Sack, told jurors her client had an alibi and that he actually went to another Hamilton home that night.
The first prosecution witnesses took the stand, a Hamilton fire lieutenant, said crews found heavy smoke and fire when they responded to the Pater Avenue home. Firefighter Patrick Wolterman and members of his crew made entry and Wolterman fell through a floor into the basement.
Lt. Adams says Wolterman was extricated from the home and he was later pronounced dead.
Prosecutors say Tucker got a ride from Richmond, Kentucky to Hamilton and had a friend park the car a distance away. When he returned, they say he had a gas can and the pills he was looking for, all in the basement of the home.
Both Parker and Tucker are charged with two counts of aggravated murder and arson.
The trial could run up to three weeks.