An El Reno man accused of killing his girlfriend and her four children will not be getting a separate jury trial on a mental issue.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals refused last week to order a separate jury trial for Joshua Steven Durcho on his mental capability.
Durcho, 29, is charged with five first-degree murder counts, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. His defense attorneys contend he is ineligible for that punishment because he is mentally retarded.
“Mr. Durcho has significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, as measured by a full scale score of 72 on an” IQ test administered by a psychologist, his attorneys claim.
His attorneys asked that a separate jury decide the mental issue before Durcho's murder trial begins. The attorneys argued that jurors who just convicted a defendant of an infamous crime may be too angry to make a rational decision about mental retardation.
Canadian County District Judge Gary E. Miller in January refused a separate trial. The appeals court also refused, saying defense attorneys could complain about the fairness of a single jury trial again if Durcho is convicted.
Many who deal with or care for the mentally disabled consider describing them as retarded extremely offensive. However, state criminal law still uses the retardation language.
The issue of mental retardation is different in criminal cases than the issues of mental competency or insanity.
Prosecutors allege Durcho strangled his girlfriend, Summer Rust, 25, in 2009 because she threatened to call police on him and he had vowed he would never go back to prison.
They allege he strangled her three daughters, Kirsten Rust, 7, Autumn Rust, 7, and Evynn Garas, 3, and her son, Teagin Rust, 4, to eliminate them as witnesses. The victims' bodies were found Jan. 12, 2009, in their El Reno apartment.
The murder trial has been postponed repeatedly. The judge could re