Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Brett Parker will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his wife and his friend last year in Irmo.
Judge DeAndrea Benjamin gave two life sentences to Brett Parker late Tuesday night, about an hour after a jury found him guilty of murder in the deaths of Tammy Parker and Bryan Capnerhurst. Benjamin said the sentences must run consecutively.
It was the maximum penalty allowed in this case.
Before sentencing, jurors heard from family members of the victims, including Tammy Parker's mother, Libby Carswell. "If he [Brett] didn't love Tammy, other people did," she said. "He didn't have to kill her."
Jurors reached their decision after just three hours of deliberation. An audible gasp could be heard in the courtroom as the verdict was read.
Brett Parker did not visibly react to the verdict or the sentence. After the decisions were rendered, he could be seen talking to his family, which was seated behind him.
Prosecutors had said during the trial that Parker shot to death his wife, Tammy, and his friend, Bryan Capnerhurst, at the Parkers' home in the Ascot Subdivision in an act of premeditation. The state said Parker, who is a bookie, had a massive gambling debt, and killed his wife to get life insurance money.
In their presentation, prosecutors said Parker shot his wife first, then waited on Capnerhurst to come to the home before killing him. They played for jurors surveillance video which they claimed showed Capnerhurst watching through a window, waiting for the victim to arrive.
Parker's attorneys, however, offered up a very different sequence of events. His lawyers said Capnherhurst had come to the home to rob Parker of money. They claimed that he killed Tammy Parker, then went looking for Brett Parker. Parker himself testified that Capnerhurst pointed a gun at him and demanded he go to a safe in the home. Parker said he pulled out a gun that was on top of the safe, turned around, and fired the fatal shots at Capnerhurst in self-defense. Previous Coverage: Parker Testifies in His Own Defense
A key point of contention by the defense and prosecution was the placement of the gun in Capnerhurst's hand. However, no crime scene photos of Capnerhurst's hand were taken by Richland County deputies on the day of the killings.
The entire trial lasted thirteen days. Parker has 10 days to appeal the decision.