(Stillwater) — A Payne County judge ruled today that a Cushing man will stand trial on three counts of first-degree murder in the February slayings of three people at a Cushing house where he had lived off and on.
    District Attorney Rob Hudson said that he will seek the death penalty for Robert Chad Lansford-Barela, 21, who is accused of shooting all three Cushing residents in the head. Barela remains jailed without bail pending his arraignment on Aug. 7 before District Judge Donald Worthington, who will set his trial date.
    The victims, Douglass Mason Peck, 27, in whose home Barela lived off and on; Albert Semas, 21, who was Barela’s cousin; and Elizabeth Michelle Hueser, 19, who had once dated Barela, were found dead in Peck’s residence at 814 E. Moses Street about 5:20 a.m. Feb. 17 by Cushing police.
    After the shootings, Barela tried to set fire to Peck’s house, but he was not successful, Cushing Police Chief Terry Brannon said.
    Barela was arrested about two hours later in Stillwater and allegedly confessed to the shootings during an interview with Cushing Police Sgt. Mark Jobe and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Kevin Garrett, an OSBI affidavit said.
    Barela had left Peck’s car at a Stillwater Wal-Mart and started walking into town, authorities said.
    His court-appointed attorney, Wayne Woodyard, maintained at his preliminary hearing in May that Barela was illegally arrested by an Oklahoma State University police officer in Stillwater — outside of campus property.
    Special District Judge Phillip Corley, who had ordered written briefs on the issue, today overruled that defense motion which sought to have all evidence pursuant to the arrest thrown out of court.
    Corley found that the evidence presented in a May 18 preliminary hearing was sufficient to hold Barela for trial on three first-degree murder counts.
    “Obviously, we’re very pleased with the court’s ruling,” the district attorney told KUSH today.
    Even though the arrest was made off campus, OSU Police Officer Richard Balfanz had the legal right to detain Barela under a written police services agreement made between OSU and the city of Stillwater, as well as under state law authorizing arrest by a private person, Assistant District Attorney Tom Lee said in court documents.
    “After receiving information to be on the lookout for Robert Chad Lansford-Barela, wanted for a triple murder in Cushing, officers of the Oklahoma State University Police Department found Barela leaving the Phillips 66 Convenience Store at 6th and Devon, Stillwater, Payne County, Oklahoma,” Lee wrote in his brief.
    “Sixth and Devon, Stillwater, Oklahoma, is on the south side of Sixth Street.
    “On the north side of Sixth Street is property of Oklahoma State University.
    “Officer Balfanz, an Oklahoma State University police officer, approached defendant and ordered him to place his hands on the wall of the car wash.
    “The officer patted Barela down for weapons, removed his billfold and retrieved his identification, placed him in handcuffs and sat him down.
    “Members of the Stillwater Police Department and the Payne County Sheriff’s Office arrived within minutes and Barela was transported to the Sheriff’s Office,” Lee wrote in his brief.
    Under the police services agreement between OSU and the city of Stillwater made in 1991, “Officer Balfanz had the authority to detain Barela because the officer had knowledge that Barela was a suspect in a triple murder. Obviously, Barela was a potential danger to citizens of Stillwater and he was fleeing from the scene of a crime,” Lee wrote in his brief.
    Prosecutors believe that Peck was slain first at about 4 a.m. and then the two other victims, Hudson said.
    Asked the motive for the killings, the district attorney said that Barela “believed Peck was a snitch” for law enforcement, according to preliminary hearing testimony.
    “Peck had recently been arrested for meth ingredients, but he had not yet been formally charged,” the Cushing police chief said.
    “Sernas was telling people that a previous shooting involving Barela was not accidental,” witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing, Hudson said.
    Hueser was killed because “she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to testimony, Hudson said.
    “He didn’t want a witness to the other killings,” Hudson said.
    The day after the slayings, OSBI agents found a 45-caliber pistol, believed to be the murder weapon, in a retention pond north of Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater, authorities said.