OKLAHOMA CITY – A former Marine accused of killing four people, including a prostitute featured on HBO's "Cathouse" series, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Friday and was sentenced to life in prison.
David "Hooligan" Tyner, 30, entered the pleas before Oklahoma County District Judge Glenn Jones, who sentenced Tyner to consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to court records. Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty at Tyner's trial later this month.
Tyner was charged with the Nov. 9, 2009, shooting deaths of Brooke Phillips, 22, who had worked at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch near Carson City, Nev., Milagrous Barrera, 22, Jennifer Ermey, 25, and Mark Barrientos, 32. The victims were found inside a burning home in southwest Oklahoma City that witnesses at a January 2010 preliminary hearing said was the center of a drug distribution and prostitution ring operated by Barrientos. Tyner, a mixed martial arts fighter, worked as a bodyguard for Barrientos.
Tyner faced a total of six counts of first-degree murder because both Barrera and Phillips were pregnant at the time of the killings.
Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the legal brothel featured on "Cathouse," said Phillips was well-liked and left "a lot of friends."
"This was a nice girl that had a child and wanted another child," Hof said. "It's sad that she was safer at the Bunny Ranch than out in the real world with this person."
He said he believes Tyner's life prison sentence will be worse punishment than the death penalty.
"I hope every day is a living hell for this man," Hof said. "To have him live with what he did every day is the punishment.
"Hopefully, this will bring some closure to all of us. I hope her daughter is being taken care of," he said.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment Friday.
According to testimony at the preliminary hearing, Tyner and a second man, Denny Phillips, 32, hatched a plan to kill Barrientos because they were not happy with the amount of money they were being paid from his drug and prostitution operation. Phillips participated in drug deals with Barrientos, according to testimony.
One concern for prosecutors was the circumstantial nature of the allegations against Tyner. The sole survivor of the shootings, Jose Fierro, saw Tyner walk into the house, but he did not see him actually shoot the victims.
Karine Sanders, who identified herself as Tyner's cousin, testified at his preliminary hearing that she overheard Tyner and Phillips making plans to kill Barrientos and that, at one point, Tyner said they could leave no living witnesses to identify them.
"It was just a big, stupid situation over money," Sanders testified.
Sanders, who is also Phillips' former girlfriend, said she frequently visited the house where the shootings occurred and saw stacks of marijuana bricks and other drugs, tables covered with cash and naked women roaming around. Sanders said she witnessed a number of drug deals in which $75,000 to $100,000 would change hands.
Prosecutors have no evidence that Phillips was present for the shootings, and he has not been charged. Prosecutors say he is serving a seven-year sentence at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., on charges related to a shootout in Tulsa in April 2010 in which he was shot three times after allegedly pointing a gun at officers who found him at a motel.