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Defense attorneys say El Reno man isn't eligible for the death penalty

They argue the multiple-murder defendant may be mentally retarded and ineligible for death penalty. The El Reno man is accused of killing his girlfriend and her four young children in 2009.
BY NOLAN CLAY Published: August 4, 2011

EL RENO — The murder trial for a man accused of five deaths was delayed to next year after his attorneys raised the possibility he is mentally retarded.

Joshua Steven Durcho, 28, faces trial on five counts of first-degree murder. He was charged after his girlfriend and her four young children were found dead in their El Reno apartment in January 2009.

Jurors would not be able to consider the death penalty as punishment if defense attorneys can prove mental retardation.

The next hearing in the case is set for Wednesday. Last month, Canadian County District Judge Gary E. Miller reset the start of the jury trial from October to Feb. 6.

Prosecutors allege Durcho strangled Summer Rust, 25, because she threatened to call police on him and he 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.

Durcho has spent time in prison for marijuana possession. At the time of the deaths, he had warrants out for his arrest in a drunken-driving case and a methamphetamine case.

His defense attorneys told the judge in July that Durcho had a 72 on an IQ test administered by a psychologist. The attorneys told the judge the psychologist recommended Durcho get a medical scan because of a possible organic brain injury.

The attorneys said their next step is to have a nationally recognized expert assess Durcho.

Ongoing coverage: El Reno murders

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