Judge Finds Murder Suspect Mentally Fit For Death Penalty
EL RENO, Oklahoma - An Oklahoma judge has rejected an accused killer's claim of mental retardation.
Joshua Durcho is eligible for the death penalty in his upcoming trial for the murders of his girlfriend and her four kids.
After hearing five days of testimony from mental health professionals and Durcho's family members, the judge determined Durcho's defense attorney failed to prove two of three criteria needed for mental retardation.
"The last thing they said to me was ‘I love you Papa'," James Franklin still remembers the day his grandchildren were found murdered in 2009. "I've never had anything hurt so bad in my life."
Franklin is waiting for justice, three years after police found the bodies of four children and their mother, Summer Rust, strangled in their El Reno apartment.
Durcho is charged with the murders. The trial has been delayed several times. Franklin has been in the courtroom for every hearing,
"He's been arrogant the whole time in court," said Franklin.
Following a mental health hearing, the Canadian County Judge found Durcho's learning problems could be blamed on the way he was raised. An order issued on August 1 quotes the judge, "It appears no one attempted to teach or instill a work ethic with Mr. Durcho and there appeared to be no effort to instill a value system in the young man."
The judge ultimately ruled that Durcho is not mentally retarded.
Franklin says the judge's decision is only the beginning of a long road ahead.
"I would have liked to been there when the judge told him he was going to face the death penalty. I'd like to see if he still had that smirk on his face," Franklin said.
With prosecutors able to seek the death penalty, Franklin and his family say they are now preparing for the upcoming trial.
"That's going to bring everything back to day one and I am just ready for this to be over with so we can all put some closure to this."
Durcho is set for trial on September 17. News 9 will be following this story and keep you updated.