Brett Parker

The trial against Brett Parker in the murders of his wife and his best friend was not really all that sensational in and of itself.  Of course, as all cases do, it had it's own twists and turns but the thing that I found most interesting or I suppose comical would be a better words is while his defense was not arguing he was mentally incompetent or necessarily of low intelligence as we so often see. No, Brett Parker's defense basically said he was an idiot.  And no, they were not saying this in the context of the fact that he had committed the crime and he just was not smart enough to cover things up.  They said it in the context of he was too dumb to have committed the crime AND covered it up.  Well, while the prosecution argued Brett Parker was not an idiot as his attorney seemed to indicate they surely had to admit that he attempted to cover it up.  So, maybe the defense attorney was correct about their client.

On April 13, 2012 Brett Parker called 9-1-1 and reported that his friend, Bryan Capnerhurst had come into his home, killed Brett's wife, Tammy and had then come after him.  Brett had defended himself and shot Bryan according to what he told investigators.  Right off the bat things seemed odd.  9-1-1 operators are likely used to getting high strung, hysterical people on the other end of their line on a regular basis that use colorful language.  In fact, I am not sure that with the "potty mouth" I have that if I was in a traumatic situation I would not use a few swear words myself without even realizing it.  But, it is not always what words you use or what you say, it is often how you say it and in this case Brett Parker was placing his swear words in some odd places. The phrase that would throw even the general public off when the 9-1-1 call was released was "he shot my fucking wife."  

Officers would respond to the Columbia South Carolina home and in an upstairs office area they would find the body of forty-four year old Tammy Jo Parker. She had been shot a total of five times, once was in the head.  In the attic area of the home they would find the body of forty-six year old Bryan Capnerhurst. Bryan had been shot four times in the head and chest area.

Brett's story was that he and his wife were at home when Bryan showed up. He would indicate that Bryan just simply showed up but investigators apparently had proof of some sort that this was a scheduled business meeting.  Brett would claim that he was downstairs when Bryan showed up and he told him to go on upstairs where Tammy was and that he would be there shortly.  He would claim that it was just after this that he heard gunshots and as he climbed the stairs he would see his wife fall to the ground while Bryan came after him demanding money that was owed to him.  The two men would go upstairs into the attic in which Brett had a safe.  It was there that Brett said he was able to obtain his own gun and he had turned it on Bryan and fired fearing for his life.

No matter how you cut it Brett was admitting shooting Bryan so of course it needed to be looked into.  Little did investigators know that not only was this case not what it appeared to be, or at least was being expressed, there was another case in the making.  It appears that in all his talking about the shooting of his wife and friend Brett had at the very least made some comments that led investigators to believe they needed to dig into what was really going on in the Parker household.

The indication was that Bryan had shot Tammy and then came after Brett because of money owed to him.  This was not a small amount of money.  We are talking about $20,000 worth of money.  My research was a bit sketchy on a few things.  Some indicated that both Brett and Tammy had good jobs, although were not specific in what they did while others indicated that Brett jumped from job to job while also running a "bookie" business on the side. Investigators would learn that the latter was a family affair and that it would be why Bryan claimed he was owed a large amount of money.  They would also learn that it was not a successful business.  The prosecutor would later tell a jury that it was her understanding that those addicted to gambling, as they would later claim was an issue for Brett, did so because of the high they received when they did win.  From their indications there was not a lot of winning going on for Brett.  

Investigators would obviously come to believe that Brett's story, was just that, a story.  A home security camera had indicated that Bryan had only been in the home for a period of eleven minutes before Brett would make the 9-1-1 call. This led them to believe that Brett had murdered his wife prior to Bryan coming to the home for the scheduled meeting.  They believe that he then lured Bryan to the upstairs attic where there was a safe and it was there that he shot Bryan. And of course, as these cases go, there was a girlfriend in the picture too.  

Brett had met Lindsay Mullins while she was working at his bank.  They had been having an ongoing affair but Lindsay would claim, as many mistresses do, that she was told by Brett that he and his wife were separated.  This of course was not true.

So, while local investigators were building their case against Brett they turned over the information about the illegal gambling over to federal investigators. It was quite difficult to keep the two separate, as his defense would learn.  

It seems that initially the defense discussed using the "Stand Your Ground" defense in this case, still of course using the information they had from their client.  But, they soon learned that would not work.  While the law allowed him to defend himself, another human and his property on his personal or work ground or area he did not allow him that right while it involved illegal activity. 

Several people, including Lindsay Mullins, would testify saying that Brett gave conflicting stories as to what happened inside the home and they just did not seem to go with the evidence.  A man by the name of Ben Staples also testified for the state.  He had been a friend of Tammy's and had admitted having an affair with her years prior, but while she and Brett were still married.  Ben and Tammy had remained friends and he had also become friends with Brett.  Ben Staples worked in taxes and finances and often did them for the Parkers.  After the murder, but before Brett's arrest in July, Ben and Brett had several conversations because Staples was now helping with Tammy's estate. 

The prosecution would argue that the motive for Tammy's murder was life insurance and 401K proceeds that would add up to just over $1M.  The defense would claim that Brett did not know about these proceeds prior to the shooting. Of course the prosecution would claim that the motive for Bryan's murder was to set him up for Tammy's murder. They would also argue that if Brett's story were true that the shooting was a result of Brett owing him money that it made so sense for Bryan to kill Tammy at all, let alone first.  His argument would have been with Brett.

Ben Staples would testify that not only did he know for a fact that Brett knew about the proceeds prior to the murder but that he had called him multiple times after attempting to get him to change his statement about that.  Staples would also testify that he had suggested very early on that the proceed money went into two trusts for the couples children. He would testify that Brett was very reluctant to do this initially and adamant that he would receive the money. Staples would claim that Brett finally did so after realizing that between the investigation into the murders going on, as well as the federal investigation into the gambling, the likelihood of Brett seeing any of that money for himself was slim.  

In May of 2013, after deliberating for about three hours the jury returned with a verdict of guilty in the 1st degree murders of Tammy Parker and Bryan Capnerhurst.  He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without parole.  The Department of Corrections website obviously shows no release date but it also showed that he has had no disciplinary actions against him since he has been imprisoned. I did find it interesting though that the site also shows any "moves" made during their time and Brett has had several over the last few years listed only as "medical."

In September of 2013 Brett, his father, Jack and another man were all found guilty of running an illegal sports gambling ring.  Brett was given two years of incarceration, not that it really mattered with his life sentence.  The only stipulation was that if he was ever released from prison on the murder charges, which seem extremely unlikely, he would serve his two years in federal prison.  

Jack Parker would receive a sentence of five months in jail and three years of probation. He would be required to spend the first five months of probation on house arrest.  He was also fined $3,000 and forced to surrender a bank account containing almost $70,000.  

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