Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 5:33 PM
By: Lauren Pack - Staff Writer
HAMILTON — A jury is scheduled Tuesday to visit a burned out Hamilton home as part of the trial for two men accused in Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman’s death.
William “Billy” Tucker and his uncle Lester Parker are both charged with two counts of aggravated arson and murder in connection to Wolterman’s death in December 2015.
Wolterman died when he fell through the first floor of the Pater Avenue home while fighting a blaze.
Prosecutors allege that Parker, 67, solicited Tucker, 46, of Richmond, Ky., to start the fire at his residence. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Parker and Tucker walked into the largest courtroom in Butler County on Monday for jury selection wearing street clothes. Tucker, whose hair was nearly shoulder length while awaiting trial, had a fresh haircut that defense attorney Tamara Sack said had been cut at the Preble County Jail, where he has been housed since his arrest last winter.
Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens requested 125 potential jurors for selection. Eighty showed up for duty, and of those, about a dozen said they would have difficulty serving during a lengthy trial.
Stephens has said the trial could last three weeks.
Some of the potential jurors said they knew a witness likely to be called to testify or one of the attorneys involved in the case.
A woman said she went to school with members of Wolterman’s family and another man said he was a firefighter in the Dayton area and had attended Wolterman’s funeral.
“I would be the worst possible person to be on the jury,” the man told the judge.
Prosecutors indicated detectives, a travel agent and an insurance expert were among those likely to testify during the trial.
Both Parker and Tucker have declined to attend Tuesday’s scheduled jury view of the home and surrounding area.
Two weeks ago, Sack filed four motions under seal, including one notice of alibi for Tucker.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said he could not comment on the sealed motions, including an alleged alibi for Tucker.
But he said he stands by the indictment.
“I plan on proving this case as if (Tucker) was there and set the fire and he did so after being solicited by Lester Parker,” Gmoser said. “I stand by our allegations and we intend to prove every single one of them.”
Other motions filed indicate there is a witness who can place Tucker at or near the scene of the fire.
Sack and Parker’s attorney David Washington both requested the jury view the scene at 1310 Pater Ave.
Emergency crews were alerted to the Dec. 28 fire by a burglary alarm. When police arrived at Parker’s home, they found heavy smoke pouring out of the two-story building.
Wolterman entered the burning home because he and other firefighters were told an older couple may have been trapped inside.
Parker told this newspaper that he and his wife were in Las Vegas celebrating their wedding anniversary on the night of the fire.