General Crime

* Darnell Washington And Tania Lejeune Washington Delay Plea In Hercules Murder Case

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The couple accused of murdering retired schoolteacher Susie Ko in her Hercules home last month appeared together for the first time in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond this afternoon. Southern California residents Darnell Washington, 24, and Tania Lejeune Washington, 25, appeared on murder charges in connection with the fatal stabbing of 55-year-old Ko on Oct. 5. Originally scheduled to enter pleas to the charges today, both defendants opted to delay their pleas until Dec. 7. The pair was recently extradited separately from King County, Wash., where they were arrested on Oct. 10 after police spotted them in a blue Subaru stolen from Ko’s home the night of her murder.

Police said the arrests came after a crime spree throughout California that allegedly included Tania Washington aiding her husband’s escape from a San Bernardino County Jail and Darnell Washington allegedly shooting a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will proceed with the couple’s case there after court proceedings in Contra Costa County, prosecutor Molly Manoukian said. Investigators from both counties continue to gather evidence in the cases against the Washingtons. Manoukian declined to say what that evidence includes in connection with the Hercules homicide since the investigation is ongoing. Both defendants, as currently charged, are eligible for the death penalty under state law, she said.

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