El Reno man accused of killing 5 people fight to avoid death penalty

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EL RENO, OK — An Oklahoma man accused of killing his girlfriend and four young kids fights to avoid the death penalty. A non-jury trial began Wednesday in Canadian County for Joshua Durcho.

Durcho faces five counts of first degree murder for the killings that took place in early 2009.

the purpose of the court hearing this week is not to decide if Durcho is guilty of murder. the goal is simply to decide is prosecutors can seek the death penalty.

“He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” that’s how Shelton Bryan described his step son Joshua Durcho.

The defense also called Durcho’s cousin Jared Buchanan and other family members who characterized Durcho as a man with below average intelligence.

That’s important because prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for durcho.

“If a person has an IQ of 70 or below, the death penalty is prohibited as being used as punishment,” explains attorney Garvin Isaacs.

Isaacs isn’t connected to the case but explains that Oklahoma law would prohibit the death sentence from being imposed against Durcho if the judge finds he meets the state standard of mental retardation.

That doesn’t mean Durcho would be found incompetent for trial.

“Mr. Durcho is still facing life without parole, but not the death penalty, if the judge finds his IQ is 70 or below,” said Isaacs.

Two separate IQ tests reported Durcho’s IQ to be 72, but the defense says there is a margin of error that falls within the state mandate.

The judge isn’t expected to make a decision until next Monday at the earliest.