COLUMBIA, SC — The financier behind a Midlands sports betting operation earned a reduced sentence in federal prison Tuesday for providing Richland County sheriffs investigators with information in an Irmo-area double-murder case.
That reduced sentence came because Lanny Ray Gunter II, 42, told Richland County sheriffs investigators that double-murder suspect Brett Parker was having an affair and had confessed to wanting out of his marriage four months before his wife and another man were shot to death in the Parkers Irmo home in April 2012.
Gunters sports betting operation was exposed as the sheriffs department investigated Parker, who has been charged with two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Tammy Jo Parker, 42, and Bryan Capnerhurst, 46.
Brett Parker, 42, also ran a sports book, and Capnerhurst worked for him, authorities have said. In 2006, Gunter had loaned $5,000 in startup money to Parker for his own sports betting operation, but Parker also gambled through Gunter and owed him money on bets.
Gunter was sentenced Tuesday to five months in prison, five months of home incarceration and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie. He faced a maximum of five years in prison after pleading guilty in October to supervising the gambling business, providing financing and directing the Internet site where clients placed their bets.
Two partners in Gunters sports book business also were sentenced. Harry Bruce Benenhaley, 66, of Columbia, and Ronald Dale Spence, 61, of Irmo, each received five years of probation, including six months of home confinement, and were ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
Benenhaley oversaw the daily operations, including answering phones, sending and receiving text messages, checking statistics, making pickups and drop-offs and verifying information on gambling websites.
Spence ran a competing sports book but had merged his business with Gunter and Benenhaley. Under their agreement, Spence kept 50 percent of the profits from his clients and Gunter and Benenhaley took 25 percent each.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday had asked Currie to reduce Gunters prison sentence because of his cooperation in the Richland County sheriffs investigation. Gunter provided information about Brett Parkers gambling debts and the Parkers marriage, he said.
Johnny Gasser, Gunters defense attorney, elaborated on the information his client provided to Richland County to support the reduced sentence.
Parker owed Gunter $176,000 in gambling debts from two accounts that he used to place bets on Gunters sports book website. One account was under Parkers name, and he placed bets through a second account under the pseudonym Hal, Gasser said. Of the total debt, $75,000 was owed under the pseudonym.
Gunter also told Richland investigators that Parker was having an affair with a woman Parker had dated as a young man, Gasser said. The woman had moved away, but the two had rekindled the romance when she returned to Columbia on a business trip. Parker had showed Gunter sexually explicit photos of the woman, Gasser said.
Gunters story has been verified by the woman, Gasser said.
In December 2011, Gunter and Parker had a conversation about Parker wanting out of his marriage, Gasser said. Parker told Gunter that he was no longer in love with his wife and wanted a divorce. But Gunter advised him to stick with the marriage, especially since it was Christmas and the couple had two children, Gasser said.
Prosecutors in the 5th Circuit Solicitors Office have said that Parker wanted to kill his wife to cash in on a life insurance policy and that he got Capnerhurst involved to make it look like Capnerhurst was the aggressor and that the shooting was self-defense.
Parkers defense attorney, David Fedor, has said that his client did act in self defense. Capnerhurst had come to the house and gone upstairs while Parker was the bathroom. Capnerhurst shot Tammy Parker and then held Brett Parker at gunpoint and led him to a safe. But Parker was able to grab a gun from the safe and turn around and shoot Capnerhurst, according to Fedors version of events.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.