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Mental-health trial to begin for El Reno suspect

EL RENO — A non-jury trial is set to begin for an Oklahoma man charged in the death of his girlfriend and her four young children.

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: June 18, 2012
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EL RENO — A non-jury trial is set to begin for an Oklahoma man charged in the death of his girlfriend and her four young children.

Monday's proceedings against Joshua Durcho will focus on his mental capacity — not the deaths of Summer Rust, her three daughters and one son. The outcome of this week's hearing will determine whether prosecutors can seek the death penalty against Durcho for the 2009 deaths.

Oklahoma law prohibits death sentences if a defendant meets the state definition of mental retardation, which includes an IQ of 70 or below and “significant limitations in adaptive functioning.”

An autopsy revealed that Summer Rust and her children died of asphyxiation, suffocation and strangulation.

The trial is expected to last several days.

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