Updated at 1:08 p.m.
A man accused of killing his father for drug money was picked up Tuesday morning as his alleged accomplice pleaded guilty to murder in court.
Joshua Brandon Hudler, 31, of Sneads Ferry, was arrested by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and charged with an open count of murder in the relation to the death of his father, Elmer Lee Hudler, said Maj. Chris Thomas.
Joshua Hudler was arrested Monday on a probation violation in Yadkin County, according to the Yadkin County Sheriff’s Office, and deputies from Onslow County drove to pick him up Tuesday.
He was on probation from an Aug. 24 conviction for felony larceny; possession of a schedule I substance; felony uttering forged paper or instrument containing a forged endorsement; felony obtaining property by false pretenses; and felony perjury, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety. He was sentenced to serve 48 months of probation.
While Joshua Hudler was being transported, the man who pulled the trigger was pleading guilty to Elmer Hudler’s murder in Onslow County Superior Court.
William Zachary Parker, 31, gave his lawyers a closed-lipped smile as he walked to the defendant’s table.
He was charged in the April 21, 2014 fatal shooting of 60-year-old Elmer Hudler, who was asleep in his bed at home at the time of his death.
Crying from Elmer Hudler’s family could be heard from the benches as District Attorney Ernie Lee described the chain of events to the courtroom.
“This has been a challenging case from day one,” Lee said.
Elmer Hudler was shot in the head three times with a .25 caliber pistol registered to someone in Georgia, Lee said.
Joshua Hudler and Parker were looking for money for heroin and Joshua Hudler allegedly said he knew a way to get it, Lee said.
Joshua Hudler allegedly spoke of killing someone for insurance money, but Parker said he didn’t realize it was Joshua Hudler’s father until they pulled into the cul-de-sac, Lee told the court.
He was allegedly planning to use the insurance money from his father’s death to buy heroin, and Lee said Josh Hudler allegedly promised to give Parker $1,000 per week for his role, though the number of weeks that would be paid out was not specified.
The two went inside the house to Joshua Hudler’s room where a gun was pulled out and Joshua Hudler allegedly used a grey shirt to wipe down the gun and the bullets to get rid of his prints, Lee said, before passing the gun to Parker.
Parker said he didn’t want to kill Elmer Hudler, Lee said, but Joshua Hudler allegedly threatened to harm Parker’s family and told him to shoot his father.
Parker shot Elmer Hudler once in the head, and when the 60-year-old started to make gurgling sounds Parker put a pillow over his head and fired two additional rounds, Lee said.
Joshua Hudler allegedly then told Parker, “Good job, you did what you were supposed to,” Lee said.
Parker’s attorneys, Ed Bailey and William Gerrans, declined to speak to the court on their client’s behalf and Gerrans declined to comment about the case after court was recessed.
Elmer Hudler’s family chose not to speak to the court but Lee said he knew, if they would have spoken, they would have told the court how much they loved Elmer Hudler. Lee said he’s spoken with the family many times over the past two years and he’s heard of their genuine love for Elmer Hudler since the first time they met.
As part of his plea deal Parker will be testifying against Joshua Hudler for his alleged role in Elmer Hudler’s death, Lee said.
Parker will be sentenced to serve 25-to-31 years in prison if he testifies truthfully in Joshua Hudler’s trial, Lee said. If not, the original charge of first degree murder will be applied with a sentence possibility of life without parole.
Joshua Hudler was arrested within an hour of Parker’s plea in court, Thomas said. He was transported to Onslow County and arrived around 3 p.m. for the warrant to be served. His first appearance in district court is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Joshua Hudler has previously been convicted of felony larceny over $1,000, felony larceny over $200 and misdemeanor willfully setting fire to a woodland on July 26, 2012 for which he received probation, according to the Dept. of Public Safety.
Probation has been revoked twice for those offenses and Joshua Hudler was incarcerated from November 2014 to January 2015 and February 2016 to April 2016 for violating his probation.
Updated at 10:17 a.m. to include second arrest info.
William Zachary Parker pleaded guilty to second degree murder in Onslow County Superior Court early Tuesday morning for the 2014 fatal shooting of a 60-year-old man who was asleep at the time of his death.
Parker is accused of killing Elmer Lee Hudler of Holly Ridge, April 23, 2014, according to warrants. Hudler was found beside his bed after he was shot to death, according to information from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities say Hudler's son helped Parker plan the man's death. Parker is slated to testify against him as part of the plea deal.
Hudler's son was arrested this morning. Few details are available in the arrest.
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