CLAREMORE – A Rogers County man pleaded guilty today to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life without the chance of parole for the beating death of his girlfriend’s son, said prosecutor Ray Hasselman.
Steven Wayde Lockler, Jr., 28, of Claremore entered the plea in Rogers County District Court in Claremore for the death of Christopher Barnard, 4.
Lockler punched the boy in the stomach twice and whipped him with a belt after he soiled his pants. He later died from those injuries, according to the medical examiner’s report.
Roxann Marie Barnard, 27, the child’s mother, is charged with enabling child abuse. She is scheduled to go to trial in February, court records show.
The Department of Human Services had received eight reports alleging child abuse before the boy’s death. The first complaint was filed when Christopher was two weeks old. The complaints started with poor living conditions and evolved to complaints of bruises on Christopher’s cheeks and arms, a busted lip, a golf-ball-size knot on his head, unexplained bumps, bruises and red marks.
The final report came on Aug. 1, 2007, when DHS was informed the child had been found unsupervised in his front yard while the mother reportedly left to take Lockler to work.
The caseworker went to the Claremore Police Department, where the caseworker observed a mark on the child’s lower left eye and Christopher stated “my daddy hit me with a belt.”
In each report, a DHS worker conducted extensive interviews with friends, family and day care staff, as well as examined the child, but in each instance, ultimately found no confirmed abuse or neglect.