(Stillwater) — A Cushing man for whom the district attorney is seeking the death penalty had allegedly planned for approximately two weeks to kill one of the victims of a Cushing triple homicide, according to documents filed in court last week.
Robert Chad Lansford-Barela, 21, who remains jailed without bail, allegedly told law enforcement officers “that if he had it all to do over, he would still kill Douglass Mason Peck and Albert Cernas, but that he might not kill Elizabeth Hueser,” District Attorney Rob Hudson said in court documents.
Barela was scheduled to be arraigned in trial court Friday before District Judge Donald Worthington on three counts of first-degree murder of the Cushing residents.
But that court appearance was postponed to Sept. 18, since the preliminary hearing transcript has not been completed, Payne County First Assistant District Attorney Tom Lee told KUSH radio.
At a trial, the date of which has not been set, “The evidence will be that defendant shot Douglass Mason Peck in the head with a firearm in the bedroom of Peck’s residence,” the district attorney alleged in court documents filed last week.
“The defendant then immediately went to the living room of said residence and, in turn, shot Albert Cernas in the head with a firearm and then immediately shot Elizabeth Hueser in the head with a firearm,” the district attorney alleged.
“The evidence expected to be presented is that the defendant decided to kill Douglass Mason Peck approximately two weeks prior to his murder; the defendant decided to kill Albert Cernas during the evening prior to the murders.
“The defendant killed Elizabeth Hueser because he did not want to leave a witness to his killing of Douglass Mason Peck and Albert Cernas.
“The defendant told Elizabeth Hueser the evening prior to the murders that she shouldn’t be at Peck’s house that evening,” according to statements made by Barela, the district attorney alleged in court documents.
The victims, Peck, 27, in whose home Barela had lived off and on; Sernas, 21, who was Barela’s cousin; and 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.
The killings occurred about 4 a.m., the district attorney said.
Barela “believed Peck was a snitch” for law enforcement, according to preliminary hearing testimony, the district attorney told KUSH radio.
“Peck had recently been arrested for meth ingredients, but he had not yet been formally charged,” Cushing Police Chief Terry Brannon said.
“Sernas was telling people that a previous shooting involving Barela was not accidental,” witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing, the district attorney said.
Hueser was killed because “she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to testimony, the district attorney said.
After the shootings, Barela tried to set fire to Peck’s house, but he was not successful, the Cushing police chief said.
Barela, who was arrested about two hours later in Stillwater, allegedly confessed to the shootings to 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 Walmart and started walking into town, authorities said.
“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,” according to court documents filed by Lee.
“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,” according to court documents filed by Lee.
Under a 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 court documents.
The day after the slayings in Cushing, 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.