Trials won't be be separated or moved for men accused of setting fire that killed firefighter

Trials won't be be separated or moved for men accused of setting fire that killed firefighter
Posted at 3:00 PM, Apr 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-24 15:02:30-04

HAMILTON, Ohio -- The trial of two men accused of starting a fire that killed a Hamilton firefighter will be tried together in Butler County, a judge ruled Monday.

A motion to sever the trials of Lester Parker and Billy Tucker were denied, as was a motion to move the fatal arson trial out of Butler County. The judge also denied a motion to move the trial out of Butler County; the court has yet to try to seat a jury.

Parker, 66, owns the home on Pater Avenue where firefighter Patrick Wolterman died in 2015. Parker is charged with two counts of aggravated arson and murder.

Parker was arrested on an indictment in December and his trial was scheduled to begin on Feb. 21, but he signed a time waiver, which gave up his right to a speedy trial.

In an earlier hearing, defense attorney David Washington said he had received a substantial amount of evidence, “with more to come.”

Tucker, Parker's nephew, was arrested in Richmond, Ky., in January. Tucker, 46, is also charged with aggravated arson and murder.

Prosecutors said Parker solicited Tucker to light the fire where Wolterman died fighting the blaze on Dec. 28, 2015. Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said there is no doubt that Parker was out of town at the time of the fire, and evidence in the case will show Tucker started the fire.

The murder charge carries a prison term of 15 years to life and a $15,000 fine; the aggravated arson charge carries a maximum prison term of 11 years and a $20,000 fine, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Wolterman fell through the first floor of the Pater Avenue home while fighting the fire. He died from injuries sustained battling the blaze.

Past reporting from The Journal-News contributed to this report.