COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Brett Parker, the man accused of a double killing inside his Ascot Estates home, made his first appearance in court on Thursday where bond was denied after prosecutors described what they characterize as a cold-blooded scheme to kill his wife and one of his employees.
Dressed in all-blue prison slacks, the 42-year-old Parker and his two attorneys appeared before Judge DeAndra Benjamin to answer charges that he killed his wife, Tammy Parker, and Bryan Capnerhurst, a fellow employee in a sports gambling operation.
The two were found dead inside the Ascot Estates home on Tackeria Court on Friday, April 13.
During the hearing, prosecutors said Brett Parker was involved in at least two extra-marital affairs in the four months prior to the incident. They also allege that Parker killed Tammy to try to collect over $1 million in insurance money and 401K proceeds.
Capnerhurst's stepson, Heyward Barnes, represented the victims' families asking that the judge deny bond.
"Knowing the person who had been free to go about their daily life intensifies our hardship and fear," Barnes told the court.
Parker's defense attorney says the accusations are "absolutely ridiculous."
"Everybody has insurance coverage, most people we know" said defense attorney Mark Whitlar. "Everyone has 401ks. And if that's a motive to kill someone, then everyone in this county is sitting there with a potential motive to kill."
"If you're in debt, that's no reason to shoot your wife," added co-counsel Dave Fedo. "Otherwise there would be a lot of wives shot in this county."
Parker initially told sheriff's investigators that he acted in self-defense, but Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said that was not the case.
"You know some people say that gambling is a victimless crime," said Lott. "But I think if you asked the children of Tammy Parker, her parents and her friends as well as Bryan Capnerhurst's family, they'll tell you there are victims associated with gambling."
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson may eventually have to decide whether the twin killing will be prosecuted as a death penalty case. To qualify, the murders would have to include at least one of a dozen aggravating circumstances.