Family of men charged in Hamilton firefighter's death speak out in court

Posted at 12:28 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 00:45:18-05

RICHMOND, Ky. -- A family member who watched the short proceeding told the Journal-News that the two men charged in the Hamilton arson that killed a firefighter are innocent.

William “Billy” Tucker Jr. was arrested in a Richmond, Ky., bar on Jan. 6 just a few hours after a Butler County grand jury returned indictments against him for aggravated arson and murder. Tucker’s uncle, Lester Parker, 66, owner of the Pater Avenue house where firefighter Patrick Wolterman died in December 2015, is also facing the same charges.

A woman, who declined to identify herself but said she was Tucker’s mother, told the Journal-News that Tucker is innocent.

The woman, who also said she is Parker's sister, said she would also be in Hamilton for Parker’s court appearance next week. She maintains that Parker is also innocent.

Tucker has been living in Richmond, Ky., for a few years, but the woman said they are all originally from Hamilton.

Tucker was extradited to Ohio Wednesday.

Tucker told Madison County Judge Charles Hardin this morning that he understood the procedure. He will now be picked up by officials from Hamilton and transported back to Ohio.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said there is no doubt that Parker was in Las Vegas at the time of the fire on Dec. 28, 2015. Evidence in the case will show Tucker as the person who started the fire, he said.

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 Parker’s Pater Avenue home while fighting a fire that was later ruled an arson. Wolterman died from injuries he sustained battling the blaze.

The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO - 9 On Your Side.