OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The former girlfriend of a man accused of killing four people, including a prostitute featured on HBO's “Cathouse” series, testified Tuesday she overheard him plan the Oklahoma City shootings.
Karine Sanders testified in Oklahoma County District Court on the second day of a preliminary hearing for Denny Edward Phillips, 34, who is charged with killing drug dealer Casey Mark Barrientos and three others. Among the victims was Brooke Phillips, who had worked for a legal Nevada brothel featured on HBO. Brooke Phillips was not related to Denny Phillips.
Sanders said Phillips and a second man, David Allen Tyner, planned to kill Barrientos, 32, because they were not happy about the amount of money they received from him.
“They were going to kill Casey and anybody who was in the house,” Sanders testified. “I almost felt threatened by it.”
Investigators say Barrientos ran a drug and prostitution ring out of the south Oklahoma City house where the victims were killed. Denny Phillips and Tyner, 31, allegedly were involved in illegal drug sales with Barrientos.
Sanders said she dated Denny Phillips during the summer of 2009 and that they frequently visited the house.
“It was like a party house,” she said. “A lot of strippers. A lot of drugs. A lot of drinking.”
She said there was also a lot of money lying around and that many who visited the house were armed.
Denny Phillips faces six counts of murder because Brooke Phillips, 22, and Milagros Barrera, 22, were pregnant when they were killed. All of the victims, including Barrientos and Jennifer Ermey, 25, were shot and stabbed and their bodies were set on fire.
Tyner, whom Sanders identified as her cousin, worked as Barrientos' bodyguard and complained to Denny Phillips that he was not being paid enough, Sanders said. Denny Phillips was also not happy with the amount of money he made from drug deals with Barrientos, she said.
“Let's do something about it,” Sanders testified Denny Phillips said at one point during a conversation with Tyner in which she was present. She said Denny Phillips made it clear that he wanted to personally kill Barrientos.
“He wanted to shoot Casey, I know that,” Sanders said. “He said he wanted to look in his eyes.”
Sanders said she broke up with Denny Phillips in September 2009, two months before the shootings and did not report the threats because she did not take them seriously.
In May 2012, Tyner pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to consecutive life prison sentences without the possibility of parole in a plea agreement to avoid a possible death penalty.
The preliminary hearing will determine whether there is probable cause that Denny Phillips was involved in the shootings and should be tried for murder. He has pleaded not guilty and if convicted could face a death sentence or life in prison.
HBO's “Cathouse” focused on the Moonlite Bunny Ranch near Carson City, Nev.