OKLAHOMA CITY — A man accused of being involved in an assault on a Lula man and arson has reportedly told authorities he is responsible for the death of his 3-month-old nephew.
Brian Barber, 21, Luther, turned himself in to authorities in Oklahoma County Friday morning in connection with the Dec. 4 death of Samuel Barber, Luther.
Charges were filed in Oklahoma County against Barber, Irene Cochran, 42, and Tonya Barber, 23, for felony child neglect and additional charges may be filed once an autopsy report is reviewed by prosecutors. If convicted of felony child neglect, each could face up to life in prison.
Barber was involved in an alleged assault involving John Arnold, Lula, and in connection with Arnold’s trailer house having burned to the ground. Pontotoc County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Bittle investigated the incident Dec. 16 and interviewed Barber in connection with the allegations of assault and arson. Barber was under suspicion for having set the house on fire, allegedly having told deputies he may have gone to sleep on the couch with a lit cigarette.
Barber had been allowed to stay with the Arnold family, according to Undersheriff Joe Glover, because he had no where to stay. Barber told deputies he became angry with Arnold after the two had been drinking. Arnold was treated at Valley View Regional Hospital for numerous cuts received in the altercation with Barber, according to the deputy’s report. The fire occurred hours after Arnold was taken to the hospital.
“You can’t arrest someone on suspicion. We were investigating the incidents to gather evidence,” said Undersheriff Joe Glover.
Samuel and his sisters, ages 3, 2 and 1 were were taken into DHS custody Dec. 2. Authorities have not located Tonya Barber, mother of the four children.
Samuel Barber died two days after being taken to the Pauline E. Mayer shelter where the children placed in protective custody through the Department of Human Services.
According to Oklahoma County sheriff reports, the trailer home was filthy and upon entry, the odor of rotting garbage and animal feces from nine dogs and two cats inside the house was overwhelming. The children were reportedly covered in feces and two of them were eating food off the floor. The infant, Samuel, was lying face down on the couch with a bottle of what deputies reported to be spoiled milk.