- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Tenn. man admits killing in-laws with lamp-bomb

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee man pleaded guilty Tuesday to killing his mother- and father-in-law with a bomb disguised as a lamp to get out of repaying the couple a $40,000 debt.

Richard Parker entered the plea Tuesday in Wilson County Criminal Court in a deal that calls for him to serve life in prison without parole.

Parker is the son-in-law of Jon and Marion Setzer, who were killed at their house in February when they plugged in the lamp they retrieved from a package that had been left on their porch by Parker. He lived directly behind them in rural Wilson County, which is about 30 miles east of Nashville.

The blast killed 74-year-old Jon Setzer, a retired lawyer. His wife, 72-year-old Marion Setzer, later died at a Nashville hospital from her injuries. Authorities said a handwritten note in the package had instructed the couple to plug in the lamp.



Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Lea said Parker built the bomb with items bought at a Wal-Mart in nearby Gallatin, then placed it in a cardboard box he also got from the store.

Lea said Parker wrote a fake address on a FedEx packing slip he got at an office store, then placed it on the package that he put on the couple’s porch.

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Tennessee Supreme Court races see spending spike

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An influx of campaign spending on three Tennessee Supreme Court seats has transformed what is traditionally a sleepy affair into a hard-fought campaign that has raised questions about the role of partisan politics in the judiciary.

Voters going to the polls in Thursday’s primary election will also decide the nominees for the U.S. Senate, House, governor and a slew of state legislative candidates. But the down-ballot question about whether to retain or reject three justices originally appointed by a Democratic governor has become the subject of heavy television advertising and other campaigning.

The governor appoints justices and voters decide whether to keep them for full eight-year terms. Only one justice has ever lost. If even one of the incumbent justices is defeated on Thursday, the replacement would likely give Republicans control the highest court in Tennessee, which is the only state where justices name the attorney general.

Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who has spearheaded the effort to oust the three justices, last week disclosed giving $425,000 from his political action committee to bankroll a series of television ads painting Justices Gary Wade, Connie Clark and Sharon Lee as liberal supporters of President Barack Obama’s health care law who are soft on crime and capital punishment.

The Republican State Leadership Committee is also spending about $400,000 on efforts to defeat the justices, said spokeswoman Jill Bader. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the incumbents said the justices have raised about $1 million.

Vanderbilt University law professor Tracey George said the spending on the retention election is higher than usual for Tennessee, but well below what has been spent on Supreme Court and attorney general races in other states.

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Court hearing gay marriage arguments from 4 states

CINCINNATI (AP) - A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in six gay marriage fights from four states - Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee - in the biggest such session on the issue so far.

Three judges of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will consider arguments Wednesday that pit states’ rights and traditional, conservative values against what plaintiffs’ attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Large demonstrations are expected outside the courthouse by both opponents and supporters.

Michigan’s and Kentucky’s cases stem from rulings striking down each state’s gay marriage bans. Ohio’s case deals only with the state’s recognition of out-of-state gay marriages, while Tennessee’s is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Attorneys on both sides in the Michigan and Ohio cases will go first and get a half-hour each to make their cases. Kentucky and Tennessee will follow, with 15 minutes for each side from both states.

Hundreds of gay marriage supporters rallied Tuesday at a park near Cincinnati’s riverfront on the eve of the court arguments.

The Rev. Mary Moore of Dayton, interim minister at the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church, says she has performed many services of “holy union” for same-sex couples, but they are not recognized by the state.

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Summary of gay marriage cases before appeals court

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in six gay marriage fights from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee on Wednesday, setting the stage for one ruling. Each case deals with whether statewide gay marriage bans violate the Constitution. A look at the cases:

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KENTUCKY

Kentucky has two cases, including a lawsuit filed by three couples last year seeking to have their marriages recognized by the state.

In July, a federal judge agreed with the couples, striking down the state’s ban on recognizing out-of-state marriages. That ruling is on hold pending appeal.

One couple, Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon, said that if they win, their first move will be to get Bourke listed as the legal parent of their two children. Kentucky recognizes only DeLeon as their parent, since the couple’s 2004 marriage in Canada is not valid in the state.

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