COLUMBIA, SC — The key to a federal gambling trial for convicted killer Brett Parker is whether prosecutors can convince a jury that his deceased wife participated in a sports betting operation.
But prosecutors have challenges to overcome Monday as the trial starts.
They can talk about Brett Parker’s wife and his betting clerk. But they can’t say Brett Parker killed them.
A judge has ruled attorneys and witnesses cannot tell the jury that Parker is in state prison for shooting and killing his wife, Tammy Jo Parker, and his sports betting clerk, Bryan Capnerhurst in April 2012. Prosecutors also may find it hard to introduce Tammy Jo Parker’s handwritten household budgeting notes that they believe show she was managing income from her husband’s sports book.
The jury trial for Brett Parker, his father, Jack Parker, and Douglas E. Taylor begins at 9:30 a.m. Monday before U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie at the Matthew J. Perry federal courthouse in Columbia.
To convict someone on a federal gambling charge, prosecutors must prove the operation had five or more participants, operated for more than 30 consecutive days and had a gross revenue of more than $2,000 on any given day.
During pre-trial hearings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday said he would introduce Tammy Jo Parker and Capnerhurst as the fourth and fifth members of the ring.
Brett Parker was convicted on two counts of murder in a Richland County courtroom in May. He is serving life without parole at the S.C. Department of Corrections.
During his murder trial, Brett Parker admitted he was a bookie. His father was listed as a defense witness in the murder trial but never testified. But other testimony indicated Jack Parker introduced his son to the business.
While Brett Parker does not have much to lose in a federal conviction, there’s a lot at stake for his father and Taylor, of Batesburg-Leesville, who has been identified as a betting clerk for Jack Parker.
The maximum prison sentence is five years, but prosecutors also have served notice that they intend to seize property and assets that they believe were obtained through gambling.
For Jack Parker, that means he potentially could lose $63,302 in a certificate of deposit account as well as a Chapin home on the shores of Lake Murray, according to court filings. The government also could attempt to seize a minimum of $2.5 million from each defendant.
The trio’s gambling trial is the second gambling case federal prosecutors have taken to court in the wake of the April 2012 killings of Tammy Jo Parker and Capnerhurst. The shootings led federal and state authorities to investigate sports betting operations in the Midlands.
Lanny Ray Gunter, Harry Benenhaley and Ronald Dale Spence pleaded guilty in October to running an illegal gambling business. Gunter served time in federal prison and paid a fine while the others received home confinement, probation and paid fines.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.