By Patti Weaver
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A felony charge of accessory to first-degree murder has been dropped against the then-girlfriend of one of the three Stillwater men who admitted participating in a gruesome slaying in which the victim was beaten and stabbed before his corpse was set on fire.
District Judge Phillip Corley dismissed the case against Storm Burnett Fields, 31, now of Ponca City, on the recommendation of District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas, who wrote in an Oct. 22 motion, “The defendant may have a valid duress defense. The defendant has been cooperative.”
Fields, who lived in the Stillwater house where the slaying occurred four years ago, had been charged as an accessory for allegedly helping clean the homicide scene and dispose of evidence. She had been free on $5,000 bail since her arraignment on April 10, 2017.
The slain man, Michael Dwayne Hamilton, 38, of Stillwater, who previously lived in Cushing, was identified by the tattoos on his badly burnt body, authorities said.
All three admitted killers, as well as the victim, had methamphetamine-related convictions and previously served prison terms, state Department of Corrections records show.
Fields’ then-boyfriend, Gregory Gavin Guard, 43, was sentenced in September to a 10-year prison term on a charge reduced from first-degree murder to first-degree manslaughter, with a concurrent three-year prison term for desecrating a corpse.
Guard “was the only one we think would be entitled to a possible self-defense instruction,” if he had a jury trial, the DA said.
Former Cushing resident Anthony Wayne Endrina, 52, avoided a jury trial in September on a first-degree murder charge by accepting a plea bargain on a reduced charge of second-degree murder, for which he was given a 12-year prison term followed by 10 years of probation, with a concurrent seven-year prison term for desecrating a corpse.
His distant relative, former Cushing resident Gary Allen Schaffner Jr., 47, who called Endrina “uncle,” also accepted a plea bargain on a reduced charge of second-degree murder for which he was given a 15-year prison term followed by 10 years of probation, with a concurrent seven-year prison term for desecrating a corpse.
During a preliminary hearing in the March 28, 2017, slaying, Stillwater Police Chief Jeff Watts, who was then a detective lieutenant, testified that when he interviewed Schaffner three days after the killing, “I suggested it (Hamilton’s slaying) was related to a drug transaction between Anthony Endrina and Michael Hamilton.”
In a news release, the DA said, “All three (homicide) defendants, the victim, and every civilian witness have prior criminal histories including extensive illegal drug involvement. Those criminal histories would have been relevant to a jury. Each defendant’s statement, as to what they and their co-defendants did, is not admissible against the other defendants.
“Lay witnesses were hesitant to testify, and the success of the case was dependent upon the defendant’s statements. Given those obstacles, we are satisfied we are removing these (homicide) defendants from society for significant periods of time.”