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 because he was unhappy with the amount of money he made from a drug dealer among those killed.
Denny Edward Phillips, 34, was charged in the deaths of drug dealer Casey Mark Barrientos and three others, including two pregnant women. One of the victims was Brooke Phillips, who had worked for a legal Nevada brothel featured on HBO. She was not related to Denny Phillips.
In testimony at Denny Phillips’ preliminary hearing Tuesday, his former girlfriend testified Phillips and a second man, David Allen Tyner, planned to kill Barrientos, 32, because they were unhappy with their take from Barrientos’ drug trade.
“They were going to kill Casey and anybody who was in the house,” Karine Sanders testified in Oklahoma County District Court. “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, which began last week, 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. Brooke Phillips left the show two months before her death after becoming pregnant.
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Two-for-one for Everyone — West Wind Solano Twin Drive-In, Concord, Calif. This family-friendly attraction with several spots across the U.S. (including California, Nevada and Arizona) prides itself on offering first-run double features (save for premiere events) on the cheap — which is quite the deal, considering their 65-foot screens are among the biggest in the biz. And if you have great car speakers, even better: squawk boxes of old have been replaced with Dolby quality audio piped through your car’s FM stereo.
For the Four-legged Friendly — Warwick Drive-In, Warwick, N.Y. Northeast city slickers looking for a place to watch their favorite movie stars under the stars need only veer six miles east of Vernon, N.J. What began as a family affair in 1950 has since become a seasonal institution offering rural and urban (and pet!) audiences two movies for the price of one on any of its three giant screens.
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See Stars Collide — Ford-Wyoming Drive-In, Dearborn, Mich. Open year-round (unlike many of its surviving contemporaries), this five-screen staple of the Midwest known as the “largest drive-in in the world” plays host for up to 3,000 cars on any given night. And if the double-feature doesn’t hold your attention, relax; you’ve got the best (car)seat in the house for the occasional overhead meteor shower.
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A Hole (Lot of Fun) in One — Wellfleet Drive-In, Wellfleet, Mass.Built in 1957 and still offering original mono sound boxes for those looking for an authentic experience (or not, as FM stereo is available as well), the summer-exclusive theater hosts double features of first-runs on its giant 100’ x 44’ screen. Come for the movies, stay for the mini-golf and flea market (on select days).
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Go Big or Drive Home — Bengies Drive-In, Baltimore, Md. The only thing bigger than Bengies’ prolific history (57 years and going) is its main attraction — boasting the biggest theater screen in the U.S. at 6,240 square feet. That’s 52’ x 120’ of pure anamorphic presentation. Complementing its time capsule of a snack bar (unchanged since ’56), previews old and new occupy the venue’s old-timey intermissions between features.
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Proof That Film is Forever — Shankweilers, Orefield, Pa. While we’re on superlative street, consider stopping at this roadside treasure: America’s oldest drive-in. Operating since 1934, it may not have the frills and pony rides of nearby Becky’s Drive-In, but it’s defied hurricanes and the wear and tear of time. Worth the one-hour drive from Philly.
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The Gritty Hollywood Reboot — Corral Drive-In, Guymon, Okla. Like a slasher movie menace that died (several times) in the ’80s only to be rebooted years after, the long-vacant Corral Drive-In was resurrected and restored in 2009, providing big entertainment at a nominal fee. And if the $6 adult admission doesn’t make you feel like a kid again, the venue’s inflatable bouncers most definitely will.
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Hop the Healthy Highway — Delsea Drive-In, Vineland, N.J. Less than an hour’s trip from Atlantic City, New Jersey’s only drive-in offers the best of both worlds — old school aesthetic outfitted with modern tech and healthier food choices to boot. Open seasonally, with first features beginning around dusk.
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Bring Your Backyard to the Big Screen — Starlight Six Drive-In, Atlanta, Ga. As much a backdoor barbecue as it is a night out at the movies, this six-screen Atlanta drive-in encourages what most in the theater biz forbid: bringing your own food and grilling it. Those looking to add a hip twist of the theatrical to their Labor Day getaway need only stock the cooler and pack some brats or burgers for the Starlight’s annual “Drive-Invasion,” which features a hot-rod show, live music, and B-movies galore.
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And really, what better way is there to cruise the nostalgia highway of old Hollywood than in a MINI Roadster? Allowing all the headroom one needs to see the stars on the screen and those directly above, the 2013 convertible goes the distance where it counts — on the road (obviously), not to mention the discerning driver’s wallet. Never mind that its fun-size frame also makes motoring in and out of tight traffic all the more enjoyable (or parking in even tighter spots for cozy romantics all the more convenient).
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