(Stillwater) — The prosecution rested its case Monday at a preliminary hearing for a Cushing man who is accused of killing three Cushing residents, a woman “who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” and two men, one of whom the defendant believed was a “snitch,” District Attorney Rob Hudson said.
    But whether Robert Chad Lansford-Barela, 21, will be ordered to stand trial on three counts of first-degree murder in the February slayings will not be decided until after the hearing that began Monday resumes June 24.
    Payne County Special District Judge Phillip Corley continued the hearing on the request of the prosecution and defense, who were given until June 19 to submit briefs and caselaw on legal issues.
    Barela, who previously worked at an oil well service in Drumright, has been jailed without bail since his arrest the day the bodies were found, court records show.
    The district attorney reiterated today that he would seek the death penalty for Barela, who is alleged to have shot all three victims in the head.
    Douglass Mason Peck, 27, in whose home Barela lived off and on; Albert Sernas, 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, court records show.
    “Peck had recently been arrested for meth ingredients, but he had not yet been formally charged,” Cushing Police Chief Terry Brannon told KUSH.
    Testimony at Monday’s preliminary hearing was that Barela “believed Peck was a snitch,” for law enforcement, Hudson said.
    “We believe the evidence at trial will be that Peck was killed first,” at about 4 a.m. that day, the district attorney told KUSH.
    Witnesses testified Monday that “Sernas was telling people that a previous shooting involving Barela was not accidental,” Hudson said.
    Hueser was killed because “she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to testimony Monday, Hudson said.
    “He didn’t want a witness to the other killings,” Hudson said.
    Prosecutors believe that after Peck was killed, the other two victims were slain, Hudson said.
    After the shootings, Barela attempted to set fire to Peck’s residence, 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 that day during an interview with Cushing Police Sgt. Mark Jobe and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Kevin Garrett, according to an OSBI affidavit.
    Barela had left Peck’s car at a Stillwater Wal-Mart and started walking into town, authorities said. He was arrested about two miles from the store near Sixth and Western Streets, authorities said.
    The following day, 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.
    “My husband was killed by Chad Barela,” Peck’s widow, Stephanie Peck, wrote in a victim impact statement filed in court records.
    “I last saw him (her husband) at Thanksgiving. We were discussing moving to another town and starting over. I never got to say goodbye.
    “Chad called me right after he killed the three at my home. I feel scared all the time because of this,” Peck’s widow wrote.
    She wrote that Barela should be given life in prison without parole.
    “How could Doug’s kids sleep at night if their daddy’s killer were free?” she wrote.
    The mother of Sernas wrote in her victim impact statement that she thought Barela should receive a death sentence.
    “Not only did he take away my only son from me, he also took other lives,” Rhonda J. Sernas wrote.
    “The loss of my only son, Albert Sernas, has affected this family in many ways.
    “Chad Barela was one of Albert’s cousins. He is my stepsister’s son,” she wrote.
    Hueser’s mother, Chanda L. Chance Shelburn, wrote in her victim impact statement, “My husband and I believe he should get the death penalty because he brutally murdered our daughter and made her witness the murders of two of her best friends.”
    “Elizabeth not only died, but she was brutally murdered by the hands of someone we all knew.
    “We feel violated, consumed with fear, fear not only for ourselves, but every child out there. This was unexpected, and never did we think we would be here.
    “This murder of Elizabeth should be used to get Cushing to realize we have a serious situation.
    “I can’t sleep for I can only see the fear in my daughter’s eyes as she watched two of her very good friends blown away.
    “My heart breaks for all who have been affected by the decision Chad made,” Hueser’s mother wrote.