Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The ninth day in the double-murder trial of Brett Parker got underway Tuesday after a morning delay.
Brett Parker is accused of shooting to death his wife, Tammy, and a friend, Bryan Capnerhurst, at the Parkers' home in April of 2012.
Prosecutors say the deaths were an act of premeditation, while Parker's defense claims Capnerhurst killed Tammy Parker, and he killed the man in self-defense.
After seeing 11 witnesses testify the day before, testimony Tuesday began under an equally blistering pace.
The first witness the state called was Harry Benenhaley, a 62-year-old man who plead guilty to gambling charges after being indicted in a federal gambling ring with Lanny Gunter, a self-admitted bookie, and one other man. Benehaley is currently serving a five-month home confinement sentence which will be followed by a six-month probationary period.
During Monday's testimony, Gunter testified he ran a sports betting website in which Brett Parker used to place sports bets. Benenhaley said he ran that website with Gunter.
According to Benenhaley, Parker owed a total amount of $100,000 at the time of the murders in an account associated with his name. Benenhaley also said that Parker had opened another account for a friend, Hal, a salesman friend for which Brett intended to place bets on the website. Benenhaley said he believed this was "suspicious" because the two accounts - Parker's and Hal's - had identical activity.
The account opened under the name Hal had accrued $76,000 in debt, none of which, to date, has been repayed, Benenhaley said.
Tammy Parker's father, Jerry Carswell, was called to the stand Tuesday His voice often quivered as he told the court that he and Tammy had joked about her life-insurance policy before the murders took place. Her life-insurance amounted to about $750,000, he said.
"We wanted to believe his [Brett Parker's] innocence," Carswell said. But he said that desire soon faded as he was presented with case evidence over time.
A man who worked with Brett Parker at Palmetto Health told the court he saw Parker at work the Monday following the shootings. He says Brett Parker gave him a chilling retelling of the shootings, claiming that he went upstairs and found his wife shot. The man said Parker told him he was immediately confronted by Capnerhurst, who pointed a gun at his head. Parker told him that Capnerhurst had a "stunned" look on his face after he was initally shot, and that's when Parker shot him a few more times, stood over him, and "shot him right between the eyes."
The pace was slowed when Richland County Sheriff's Department Investigator Travis Holdorf was called to testify. Prosecutors spent over three hours questioning Holdorf on details surrounding the entire investigation into the shootings. It was stop-and-start testimony marked by dozens of defense objections and the jury being sent out as the attorney's debated matters of law out of their earshot.
Prosecutors employed a series of charts to establish Brett Parker's motive.
In August 2009, one of the charts showed, the couple owed $204,547 on their mortgage. Parker had accrued $217,000 in gambling debts. In the same series of charts, prosecutors illustrated that collectively, Brett and Tammy Parker owed $720,161 to credit companies, s reported on their credit report in May 2012. Brett, they said, was responsible for $45,112 himself.
The total amounted to $937,161. Tammy Parker's life-insurance, Holdorf said, amounted to $1.1 million.
This was immediately followed by a sharp back-and-forth, and a contentious cross-examination between Holdorf and Whitlark. The two butted heads from the beginning, causing Judge DeAndrea Benjamin to intervene.
They methodically examined and re-examined every piece of evidence, particularly gun shot residue found on blinds in the Parker home and a gun found in Bryan Capnerhurst's left hand. The gun found in Capnerhurst's hand was a 9mm Smith & Wessun, and investigators testify it was used to kill Tammy Parker.