EL RENO — An ex-convict accused of strangling his girlfriend and her four children chose this morning not to have a preliminary hearing in the murder case.
Joshua Durcho, 26, is set to be in court next on May 19 for an arraignment.
Durcho's decision clears the way for a trial. Prosecutor Paul Hesse said the decision was unexpected.
The purpose of a preliminary hearing is for a judge to decide if the evidence against a defendant is sufficient for trial. Legal experts said it is unusual for a murder defendant facing the death penalty to waive his preliminary hearing.
Durcho is charged with five first-degree murder counts. He is accused of strangling Summer Rust, 25, her daughters, Kirsten Rust, 7, Autumn Rust, 7, and Evynn Garas, 3, and her son, Teagin Rust, 4. Their bodies were found in January in their El Reno apartment.