Judge allows prosecutor to show contested video depicting key moment before firefighter's death

Defense objections overruled
Posted at 1:50 AM, Nov 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-14 01:51:30-05

HAMILTON, Ohio – Over defense objections, jurors watched a video showing the prosecutor’s version of how Billy Tucker supposedly broke into his uncle’s house before starting the fire that killed a Hamilton firefighter.

Tucker and the homeowner, Lester Parker, are on trial for murder and arson in the Dec. 28, 2015 fire and death of Patrick Wolterman.

The video, made by Hamilton police, depicts their theory that Tucker broke a lock with a crowbar to get into the cellar. But because police never found certain pieces of the actual broken lock, the defense argued that it would unfairly prejudice the jury against their clients.

"It's is a hypothetical theory that does not comport with the material, materiality of the cellar door or the lock or the hasp," argued Tucker’s attorney, Tamara Sack.

"It's complete and total speculation on top of the fact that this may not be substantially similar because we don't know when those doors went on that house,” said Parker’s attorney, David Washington. “We don't know if those are the original doors, if those were replacement doors, if that's the original lock or a replacement lock."

Prosecutor Mike Gmoser argued the merits of the demonstration.

"In the State's presentation is the identical nature of that conical object showing that the hasp was popped open, the stem pulls out," Gmoser said.

Judge Greg Stephens overruled the defense objections and let the demonstration proceed.

"Is it relevant? It is certainly relevant,“ Stephens said. “They are entitled to argue their theory. Now they can't argue that definitively there was a crowbar, they can argue the circumstantial evidence and they can pursue whatever theories are consistent with that."

Prosecutors claim Parker paid Tucker with pills to start the fire. Wolterman died when he fell through the floor on the first floor and his mask came off, according to the coroner.

The state is still presenting its case and will continue Tuesday.