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El Reno man awaits death penalty decision


EL RENO, Okla. — An El Reno man accused in the murders of his girlfriend and her four young children continues his fight to avoid the death penalty.

Joshua Durcho faces five counts of murder for the killings.

Prosecutors want the death penalty at the suspect’s upcoming trial but the defense is fighting the motion.

The victims, Summer Rust and her four children, were killed back in 2009.

Three and half years later, the family of all five victims still mourns their loss.

“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of them every single day,” James Franklin said.

Franklin, the step-grandfather of the four kids, initially preferred that Durcho be put to death but has since had second thoughts.

“At first I was for the death penalty but now that I’ve had time to think about it, that’s too good for him,” Franklin said. “I think he should be made to suffer like he made my daughter and grand kids suffer.”

The judge could prohibit prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against Durcho if he meets the state standard of mental retardation, with an IQ of 70 or lower.

The prosecution’s key expert again testified two separate tests reported Durcho’s IQ to be 72.

The defense argues that still falls within the margin of error for the state mandate.

Given the lengthy legal fight over this issue alone, the victims’ family also fears imposing the death penalty may only delay justice by decades.

“It may be 20 years before he even gets the death penalty,” Franklin said. “If he got life without parole, he’s got to deal with the other inmates the rest of his life. The death penalty, he gets a shot and goes to sleep. That may be 10 years down the road.”

Durcho is due back in court next week for some pretrial motions.

It’s possible the judge could issue his ruling of the death penalty at that time.

Durcho is still schedule to go to trial in September.