Prosecution Rests in Brett Parker Trial

7:30 PM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
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  • Leon Lott testifies in the Brett Parker trial.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The prosecution has rested in the double murder trial of Brett Parker.

Parker is accused of shooting to death his wife, Tammy, and his friend, Bryan Capnerhurst, at the Parkers' home in April of 2012. Prosecutors are arguing the killings were an act of premeditation driven by gambling debt and adultery. His defense attorneys say Capnerhurst killed Tammy Parker, and Brett Parker responded by killing Capnerhust in self-defense.

State attorneys wrapped up their case around 5 p.m. Wednesday.  It capped the end of a day of testimony that featured Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott and a man who said he handled one of the victim's finances.

Lott's agency investigated the deaths and was the first to respond to the scene.

While Lott was asked to recall facts of the case, he also spent time addressing his interaction with the Parker family since the killing. Lott told the court how after working out with Brett Parker's father, Jack Parker, at a local gym, he was approached by Jack Parker and implored to speak with Brett about the investigation. Parker then made two attempts to speak with him via telephone, one on May 2nd and another May 3rd.

The pair then met face-to-face for the first time. During that meeting, Lott said Brett Parker admitted to having an affair, but told Lott it was because he and his wife were having marital issues.

Lott told the court that it wasn't until another meeting with Brett Parker, on June 6th, that he told the defendant he was becoming aware that certain facts in Parker's statements weren't matching with evidence.

The two eventually met on five occasions, with Brett Parker initializing contact each time. During the final meeting, Lott said, the two met at Parker's home. They sat at the kitchen table and Lott informed Parker that charges were going to be filed against him and that he should turn himself in. 

Jurors also heard from Ben Staples, a friend of Tammy Parker . He said he met her in the late 1980's, and admitted that their relationship eventually progressed and became "intimate," though he said it ended in 2010. The full duration of that intimate relationship was unclear in his testimony, but he said the two remained close friends afterward.

Staples also said he helped Tammy Parker handle her finances before she was killed.  According to him, the victim had nearly $200,000 in a 401K about $51,000 in a separate retirement account, and $868,000 in a life-insurance policy through MetLife. (Three separate state witnesses have given different numbers for the full amount of Tammy's life insurance.) Staples said Brett Parker was eligible to receive each of these amounts after Tammy's death.

Later testimony from Richland Sheriff's Department Major Stan Smith revealed the amounts reached a total amount of $1,118,502.12.

Under cross-examination by co-defense counsel David Fedor, Staples revealed that Brett Parker did, in fact, have knowledge of Tammy's life insurance policy.

"He said 7-0-3," Staples said, referencing Brett Parker's statement to him about the amount of Tammy life insurance. "He said it like he had just hit the jackpot," Staples said of Parker.

Fedor asked Staples about what he called his "affair" with Tammy numerous times. Staples took offense to Fedor's line of questioning.

"You keep attacking Tammy Jo, sir, and it is offensive," Staples said to Fedor.

The defense is expected to begin presenting their case Thursday.

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