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Durcho case: Attorneys' exit may delay trial in El Reno killings

The El Reno, OK, trial for Joshua Steven Durcho, accused of strangling his former girlfriend and her four children, is likely to be delayed after defense attorneys withdrew from the case.
BY MICHAEL BAKER Modified: October 8, 2010 at 10:54 am •  Published: August 13, 2010

— A judge Thursday allowed attorneys for a man accused of fatally strangling his former girlfriend and her four children to withdraw from the case.

Canadian County District Judge Gary Miller granted a request from lawyers with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System to no longer represent Joshua Steven Durcho, 27, after the lawyers declared a conflict of interest.

While no indication of the conflict was given in court or by attorneys, the action came almost two months after Durcho and another murder defendant allegedly had a failed escape attempt from the Canadian County jail. Durcho and Jeremy Alan Pendleton, who also was represented by Oklahoma Indigent Defense attorneys at the time, were really never a threat to escape, Sheriff Randall Edwards said.

While ruling Thursday a conflict of interest had developed between defense attorneys and Durcho, Miller declined to postpone the Sept. 13 trial.

Miller said he would consider changing the trial date after new attorneys are appointed.

Durcho has pleaded not guilty in the Jan. 12, 2009, killings of Summer Rust; her daughters, Kirsten Rust, 7, Autumn Rust, 7, and Evynn Garas, 3; and her son, Teagin Rust, 4.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Durcho, who appeared at the hearing in shackles, an orange jumpsuit and a long-sleeve undershirt with holes worn in the elbows.

Defense attorneys and the prosecution declined to comment after the hearing. Court filings on the matter have been placed under seal and are not publicly available.

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