A one-time U.S. Marine and cage fighter accused of six killings in Oklahoma City entered a series of guilty pleas Friday and received six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
David Tyner pleaded guilty in Oklahoma County District Court in the so-called “Cathouse” case.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty for Tyner, 30. He was accused of killing his drug-dealing boss, a TV reality show star and two others in November 2009. Two of the victims were pregnant, leading to the total of six first-degree murder charges.
Tyner's guilty pleas mean he won't face the possibility of the death penalty for the killings. He was scheduled to face trial May 21.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater declined to comment about the details of the plea agreement.
“It's good to bring finality to the family of everyone involved,” said Oklahoma County Public Defender Robert Ravitz, whose office represented Tyner.
“Hopefully, this will start the healing process.”
About the case
The case attracted national attention because one victim, Brooke Phillips, 22, was a prostitute featured on the television show “Cathouse.” The HBO reality program is about a legal brothel, the Moonlite BunnyRanch, near Carson City, Nev. Phillips took time away from the brothel and moved back to Oklahoma because she was pregnant.
Also killed were Casey Mark Barrientos, 32, of Oklahoma City; Jennifer Lynn Ermey, 25, of Edmond; and pregnant Milagros “Millie” Barrera, 22, of Mustang. Their bodies were set on fire after they were shot the morning of Nov. 9, 2009.
Family members of the victims sat quietly Friday in the courtroom of Oklahoma County District Judge Glenn M. Jones. Prosecutors read statements from family members of Barrera and Phillips, who left behind a 6-year-old daughter.
“Losing Brooke has turned our whole world upside down, and it will never be the same,” her aunt wrote.
“Words cannot explain the anguish we feel,” wrote a Barrera family member. “The loss of Millie and her unborn child is beyond words.”
Tyner did not address the court and chose to stand with his back to Ermey's mother and cousin as they read their statement.
“We hope that every day of your life you relive the torture of what you did Nov. 9,” said the cousin, Brad Clark.
Family members did not speak to the media after Tyner was led away in handcuffs and a gray-striped prison jumpsuit.
Barrientos dealt marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine from the rented house in south Oklahoma City, according to testimony at Tyner's preliminary hearing in January 2011. He also ran prostitution on the side, witnesses said.
The house became a party place where the men carried guns, women often walked around naked, $100,000 was out on a coffee table and bricks of marijuana were stacked in the kitchen, according to testimony.
One witness testified she overheard Tyner and her then-boyfriend making plans to kill Barrientos and leave no witnesses. She said Tyner was irritated he wasn't being paid enough for his bodyguard work. Tyner lived in an apartment in Salina, in far northeastern Oklahoma, at the time of the killings.
A former girlfriend testified that Tyner was at that apartment when she went to bed about 11 p.m. Nov. 8, 2009, but he was gone the next morning. Firefighters went to the burning drug house and discovered the bodies after getting a 911 call at 5:35 a.m., police reported.
The lone survivor of the shooting said Tyner came to the house after 3 a.m. looking for Barrientos, who wasn't there at the time.
The witness, Jose Fernando Fierro, 32, said he heard shots fired 15 to 20 minutes after Barrientos arrived. Fierro fled the house. He said he was in a bedroom and did not see the shooting but that Tyner chased him.