Man charged with strangling ex, 4 kids - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Man charged with strangling ex, 4 kids

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Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 5:21 pm | Updated: 12:48 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

EL RENO, Okla. -A community college student who was strangled along with her four young children had just broken off her relationship with the burly ex-convict now accused of the slayings, the woman's mother said Wednesday.

Joshua Steven Durcho, 25, was arrested Tuesday night in Texas' Hamilton County after his car hit a guardrail and a tree, Texas officials said. Durcho waived extradition following a brief court hearing Wednesday and is expected to be returned to Oklahoma early Thursday.

As he left the hearing, he told reporters he was sorry "for getting into this (expletive) mess I didn't do."

Durcho's court-appointed Texas attorney, Rickey Bryan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors in Oklahoma charged Durcho with five counts of first-degree murder Tuesday, a day after an El Reno police officer conducting a welfare check found 25-year-old Summer Garas and her children dead in their apartment in the Oklahoma City suburb. The children ranged in age from 3 to 7.

Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty, assistant district attorney Paul Hesse said Wednesday.

Each charge listed strangulation as the cause of death. The children each had ligature marks around their necks, according to an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation affidavit.

Investigators haven't determined a motive for the killings, said OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown.

"We don't know if it's a domestic that went terribly wrong," Brown said. "I know they had their ups and downs in their relationship."

Garas' mother, Susan Rust of Carson City, Nev., told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her daughter had ended her relationship with Durcho this past Sunday.

"She said it was over and it was done, and apparently that didn't go over very well," Rust said.

"I hope he gets the slowest, most painful death because that's what he has earned. Hell is too good for him," she added.

Durcho's stepfather, Shelton Bryan, said his son liked to drink and smoke marijuana, but said he was never violent and was affectionate toward Garas' children.

"He loved those kids," Bryan said Wednesday. "He took the boy everywhere he went."

Besides Garas, daughters Kirsten Rust, 7; Autumn Rust, 6; and Evynn Garas, 3; and son Teagin Rust, 4, were killed.

After the killings, Durcho reportedly drove to Edmond and told a friend that he had "choked" Summer Garas until she was dead and that the children were with Garas' mother in Nevada, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also said Durcho visited a cousin in Oakwood on Monday and tried to get her to swap vehicles with him.

According to court records, Durcho was convicted of car theft as a juvenile and several minor drug charges as an adult. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 2003 for unlawful possession of marijuana and released in February 2007, records show.

"He has been in and out of jail most of his adult life," Brown said.

Summer Garas was a student at nearby Redlands Community College, studying to be a legal assistant, school officials confirmed.

"From what I have heard, she was a very intelligent young woman and very well-liked by her peers," college spokeswoman Meg Cannon said. "Obviously, we are going to miss her, and her family is in our thoughts and prayers."

Court records show that Summer Garas and her ex-husband Jason Garas were divorced on Dec. 10.

Crystal Franklin, Jason Garas' mother, said Summer Garas rarely locked her door and helped neighbors when they were in need.

"Summer never met an enemy," she said. "She didn't have an enemy, just loved everybody."

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