A large debt apparently drove a Wilson County man to kill his in-laws in February by using a bomb disguised as a lamp that detonated in their home.
Richard Parker, 50, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of first-degree murder by use of a bomb or destructive device in the deaths of Jon Setzer, 74, and Marion Setzer, 72. The sentence on both counts is for life in prison without parole, to be served consecutively.
"Our goal was to have something satisfactory to the family and that is what we based the decision on in this case," said Assistant District Attorney Jimmy Lea. "We met with them on multiple occasions, and from that standpoint they approved the resolution."
Parker and his family and the Setzers lived on Vance Lane in northeast Wilson County in separate homes that shared a driveway.
The son-in-law owed the Setzers roughly $40,000, Lea said. Parker also stole a check valued at $12,000, Lea said.
The explosive lamp was designed to detonate when it was plugged in, according to facts presented before Judge John Wootten at Tuesday's hearing.
Jon Setzer caught fire from the explosion on Feb. 10, in which Parker and one son were quickly on the scene.
Marion Setzer died two days later from her injuries at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where Parker kept vigil with family members.
"They are very grateful this ended the way it did without having to go to trial so they could get some closure," said Kevin Ulmet, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, where the Parkers have attended. "If this had gone to trial they would have had to relive this horror and with this plea at least that part is resolved."
The trial had been set for October.
The district attorney's office didn't seek the death penalty, "but we had not taken that off the table," Lea said.
Reach Andy Humbles at 615-726-5939 and on Twitter @AndyHumbles.