(Stillwater) — Saying nothing in court Thursday other than he was guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of three Cushing residents, a Cushing man was given three consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole by District Judge Donald Worthington.
    District Attorney Rob Hudson told KUSH that there was no plea bargain for Robert Chad Lansford-Barela, 21: “We argued for the death penalty — they (the defense) argued for life with the possibility of parole.
    “I was pleased with Judge Worthington’s sentence — it makes it certain Barela will never step outside of the prison walls. I was grateful for the good job the Cushing Police Department, as well as the OSBI, did. They brought us a very strong case.’
    The victims, Douglass Mason Peck, 27, in whose home Barela lived off and on; Albert Dean Sernas, 21, who was Barela’s cousin; and Elizabeth “Liz” Michelle Hueser, 19, who had once dated Barela, were each shot in the head and found dead in Peck’s residence at 814 E. Moses Street about 5:20 a.m. Feb. 17 by Cushing police, authorities said.  
    Barela “believed Peck was a snitch” for law enforcement, according to testimony in a preliminary hearing, Hudson said.
    “Sernas was telling people that a previous shooting involving Barela was not accidental,” witnesses testified in the preliminary hearing, Hudson said.
    Hueser was killed because “she was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” according to preliminary hearing testimony, Hudson said. “He didn’t want a witness to the other killings,” Hudson said.
    Barela did not apologize to the families of the victims in court Thursday, Cushing Police Chief Terry Brannon said.
    When the judge asked him if he wanted to make a statement, “He said he had nothing to say,” Brannon said.
    Asked what he thought of the sentence handed down Thursday, the Cushing police chief said, “I think under the circumstances what has been meted out by the court serves the best interests of justice.
    “It certainly saved the taxpayers of the county a long, drawn-out trial. It allows the healing process for the victims’ families to hopefully truly begin, which is extremely important.”
    Brannon said that he had known Barela for at least 10 years since Barela had moved to Cushing: “He was on my little league soccer team I coached.
    “I didn’t have a bad opinion of him. What I knew of him would never have led me to believe he could be involved in something like this. He took the lives of three people.
    “This is certainly not what our community is about,” emphasized the Cushing police chief.
    Brannon commended the “excellent police work,” of the lead investigator, Cushing Police Sgt Mark Jobe.
    “It was Mark that was able to elicit a confession from him — that really solidified our case against him,” Brannon said.
    According to court documents filed by prosecutors seeking the death penalty, Barela had planned for approximately two weeks to kill Peck, who was shot in the head in the bedroom of Peck’s residence.
    Barela then immediately went to the living room and shot Sernas and Hueser in the head, the documents said.
    Barela decided to kill Sernas the night prior to the murders, the documents said. Barela told Hueser the evening prior to the murders that she shouldn’t be at Peck’s house that evening, according to statements made by Barela, Hudson said in court documents.
    The killings occurred about 4 a.m., Hudson said.
    Peck had recently been arrested for methamphetamine ingredients, but he had not yet been formally charged, the Cushing police chief said.
    After the shootings, Barela tried to set fire to Peck’s house, but he was not successful, police said.
    Barela was arrested about two hours later in Stillwater after he left Pecks’s car at a Stillwater Walmart and started walking into town, authorities said.
    Officers of the Oklahoma State University Police Department — who had been alerted to be on the lookout for Barela — found Barela leaving the Phillips 66 Convenience Store at 6th and Devon in Stillwater, prosecutor Tom Lee said in court documents.
    “Officer Balfanz, an OSU 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.
    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.
    Peck’s widow, Stephanie Peck, wrote in a victim impact statement filed in court records, “My husband was killed by Chad Barela.
    “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.
    According to his obituary, Peck was raised in Las Vegas and Cushing. He was a graduate of Durango High School in Las Vegas. Peck served in the U.S. Army from September 1998 to July 2003. He was a member of the Open Heart Ministries.
    Donations for his children can be made to Douglass Mason Peck, c/o Glenn Holderread, Open Heart Ministries, 5500 W. Grandstaff, Cushing, OK 74023.
    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.
    According to his obituary, Sernas had lived in Cushing for the past eight years. He enjoyed working on computers and spending time with his friends. A video tribute honoring Sernas’ life is available for viewing at www.palmermarlerfh.com
    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.
    “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.
    According to her obituary, Hueser grew up in Oklahoma City and moved in 2005 to Cushing, where she graduated from high school in 2007.
    She was a member of the Horticulture Club, loved being outdoors, and was going to pursue a career in landscape architecture. At the time of her death, she was working at McDonalds in Cushing.
    A memorial fund has been established in her name at the Bank of the West, 421 E. Main Street, Cushing, Ok. 74023.
    According to court documents filed by the District Attorney, Barela told law enforcement officers “that if he had it all to do over, he would still kill Douglass Mason Peck and Albert Sernas, but that he might not kill Elizabeth Hueser.”