Accused Irmo wife-killer, Brett Parker, faces federal gambling charges

02/19/2013 5:29 PM

02/20/2013 7:40 PM

An admitted Irmo sports bookie who has been charged with killing his wife and a gambling partner was one of three people indicted Tuesday on a federal charge of running a gambling operation.

Brett Parker, 42, who has been in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center since July, was charged with one count of conducting an illegal gambling business. His father, 71-year-old Jack Winfred Parker of Chapin, and 60-year-old Douglas E. Taylor of Batesburg-Leesville also have been indicted on the same charge, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Columbia.

Each faces a maximum of five years in prison.

The indictment said the three men had operated an illegal gambling business since 2008 and that it had been in continuous operation for more than 30 days, with a gross revenue of $2,000 in any single day.

Last summer, Parker was charged with two counts of murder after his wife, Tammy Jo Parker, and Bryan Capnerhurst, who worked for Parker’s gambling business, were found dead April 13 inside the Parkers’ upscale Irmo-area home.

In the weeks following the shootings, Parker’s attorney, David Fedor, admitted that his client ran a sports betting business.

“We told them in the very beginning he was running a gambling operation,” Fedor said Tuesday after learning of the federal charge. “That was no news to us. Because they have weak evidence on the murder charge, they’re just piling on.

“Just because you’re a gambler, that doesn’t mean you are a murderer.”

Efforts to reach attorneys for Jack Parker and Douglas were unsuccessful.

Parker has told police that Capnerhurst came to his house to settle a sports bet and went upstairs to wait on Parker. That’s when Parker said he heard gunshots and ran upstairs to see what was happening. Capnerhurst pointed a gun at Brett Parker, Parker told police, and he was able to retrieve his gun from the top of a safe and fire on Capnerhurst.

In the hours after the April 13 shooting, that version of events was reported to the media by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. However, the sheriff’s department retracted it.

Since then, prosecutors in the 5th Circuit Solicitor’s office have said Brett Parker stood to receive a $1.1 million insurance policy for his wife’s death and that he concocted a robbery story.

A coroner’s report said Tammy Parker and Capnerhurst died from multiple gunshot wounds. And Sheriff Leon Lott has said two guns were used.

Parker’s murder trial is expected to be held in late spring or early summer, Fedor said.

The shooting deaths uncovered a major sports betting ring in the Midlands that already has led to federal gambling convictions for three other men.

Lanny Ray Gunter II, 43, was sentenced to five months in prison, five months of home incarceration and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for being the financier behind a sports betting business. His partners, 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.

During Gunter’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors said he had qualified for a reduced sentence because he helped in the Parker murder case. Gunter said Brett Parker had admitted to an affair and had confessed to wanting out of his marriage four months before his wife and Capnerhurst were killed.

The Gunter and Parker gambling operations were connected, police have said. Gunter had loaned Parker money to start his sports book and offered assistance setting lines for the bets. Parker owed Gunter $176,000 in gambling debts from two accounts, according to court testimony.

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