COLUMBIA (AP) — A South Carolina man already serving life in prison for killing his wife and another man was sentenced Wednesday to two years in federal prison for running an illegal gambling business that authorities said took in thousands of dollars.
U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie said Brett Parker’s gambling addiction led to his life spinning out of control, resulting in the shooting deaths and a gambling investigation that also landed Parker’s father and a third man in court.
Parker, clad Wednesday in the tan uniform worn by South Carolina state prison inmates, is serving two life sentences for killing his wife and a business partner. Prosecutors said that Parker, 43, killed his wife, Tammy, in April 2012, and tried to frame it on Bryan Capnerhurst, testifying unsuccessfully that he shot Capnerhurst after the man came into his home, quickly killed his wife, and then demanded money.
“I’m sorry,” a tearful Parker told the judge before he was sentenced. “I just can’t believe I left this happen.”
Without the shooting deaths of Tammy Parker and Bryan Capnerhurst, and the investigations that followed, Currie said she felt that the gambling case may have never come to light. That case also included Parker’s 72-year-old father, Jack Parker, who has been raising his son’s two children since their mother was killed and their father arrested.
On Wednesday, Currie sentenced Jack Parker to serve five months in prison for his role in the gambling business, to be followed by another five months of house arrest. Saying that although she was sympathetic to Jack Parker’s family situation, she has frequently faced the difficult task of having to sentence caregivers to prison.
“Every single day in here, I have to send people away who are leaving children behind,” she said, mentioned that she had recently sentenced a mother of five children. “I don’t think it can justify no period of incarceration at all.”
Allowed to remain in the courtroom while his father was sentenced, Brett Parker cried quietly throughout that proceeding, often looking at his father or raising his eyes upward. Jack Parker said he had never denied his work as a bookie and was pained seeing his son handcuffed and shackled.
“If I’m a part of that, then I definitely apologize for that,” Jack Parker said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday asked that Jack Parker serve 10 months in prison, saying the man had been a bookie for a generation and had rejected a plea deal that would have ended with a recommendation he serve no prison at all.
“He decided to take that chance,” Holliday said. “I think that he has to answer for his crime.”
A third man, Douglas Taylor, was sentenced to probation. Prosecutors said he worked for Jack Parker but didn’t have an agreement to share overall profits from the gambling business.