By: Patti Weaver

(Stillwater, Okla.) — One of the three ex-convicts charged in the Stillwater killing of another ex-convict, who was allegedly bashed in the head multiple times, stabbed repeatedly, choked with a noose and forced to pray while being mocked before his corpse was taken in a trash can to a rural location where it was set on fire, has avoided a March 9 jury trial on a first-degree murder charge by pleading guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder.

Former Cushing resident Gary Allen Schaffner Jr., 45, of Stillwater, has admitted that he had hit the victim in the head with a bat during an altercation that caused or contributed to his death three years ago, according to his written plea.

District Judge Phillip Corley ordered a pre-sentencing investigation of Schaffner, who remains held without bail pending his sentencing on July 24. Schaffner also pleaded guilty to desecration of the corpse of the murder victim, former Cushing resident Michael Dwayne Hamilton, 38, of Stillwater, whose badly burnt body was identified by his tattoos following the March 28, 2017, slaying at 721 W. 10th Street in Stillwater.

Payne County District Attorney Laura Thomas, who in July of 2017 filed court documents seeking the death penalty for all three men on the first-degree murder charge, advised the judge in court last week that part of the plea agreement with Schaffner on the reduced murder charge was that he would not be called as a witness by the prosecution in either of his co-defendants’ cases.

According to Schaffner’s written guilty plea filed in court records, the plea agreement calls for him to serve 15 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge followed by 10 years of probation with a concurrent seven-year prison term for desecration of a corpse.

Schaffner’s distant relative, former Cushing resident Anthony Wayne Endrina, 50, of Stillwater, remains held without bail pending his July 13 jury trial on charges of first-degree murder and desecration of a corpse, court records show. The other co-defendant, Tulsa native Gregory Gavin Guard, 41, who was living at the house where the slaying occurred along with his own girlfriend, Schaffner, and Schaffner’s girlfriend, remains held without bail pending his Sept. 14 jury trial on charges of first-degree murder and desecration of a corpse.

During Schaffner’s preliminary hearing in July of 2017, then Stillwater Police Detective Lt. Jeff Watts, who is now the police chief of Stillwater, testified that when he interviewed Schaffner on March 31, 2017, “I suggested it (the homicide) was related to a drug transaction between Anthony Endrina and Michael Hamilton.”

Schaffner “said he used a bat to hit Hamilton in the side of his head because he thought he might be going for a gun,” Watts testified.

Endrina allegedly struck the first blow with a foot-long wooden stick that hit the forehead of the victim, who began to bleed, according to an affidavit by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Agent Lynda Stevens. Guard allegedly stabbed the victim at least once in the leg as the victim was struggling to get up the stairs in the house where the slaying occurred, the affidavit said.

Schaffner told the Stillwater detective lieutenant that “Hamilton said ‘you don’t have to go this far.’ Guard put a noose around Mr. Hamilton’s neck and tightened it,” the detective lieutenant testified in Schaffner’s preliminary hearing.

All three men charged with murder, as well as the victim, have methamphetamine-related convictions and served prison terms, state Department of Corrections records show.

Guard’s girlfriend, Storm Burnett Fields, 29, of Ponca City, who was then living in the house where the slaying occurred, remains free on $5,000 bail pending her April 24 arraignment in trial court on a charge of accessory to first-degree murder for allegedly helping clean the homicide scene and disposing of evidence, court records show.

Schaffner said, “Endrina and Guard loaded the body in the cart. Guard carried gas. The defendant (Schaffner) said he was sickened by what was going on and returned to the truck,” the detective lieutenant testified in a preliminary hearing that Schaffner told him.

Schaffner, a distant relative of Endrina, referred to him as “uncle,” whom he looked up to, the detective lieutenant testified Schaffner told him.

Endrina “was running the show,” OSBI Agent Michael Dean testified in Endrina’s preliminary hearing in August of 2017.