A Southern California couple accused of fatally stabbing a retired schoolteacher in her Hercules home in a multi-state crime spree pleaded not guilty today to murder charges and enhancements. Darnell Washington, 24, and Tania Lejeune Washington, 25, both entered their pleas in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond this afternoon to felony charges of murder, robbery, burglary and carjacking. Tania Washington covered her face with her hands and appeared to be crying during part of the hearing. The pair is scheduled to return to court in March to set future court appearances.
Police said the couple killed 55-year-old Susie Ko in her house on Ash Court in Hercules on Oct. 5 and fled the scene in her car. The pair also robbed a Kmart in Pinole and fled the scene in a stolen truck before the murder, authorities said. Police said the murder came after Tania Washington aided her husband’s escape from a San Bernardino County Jail on Aug. 28. Days later, Darnell Washington allegedly shot and injured a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy to avoid arrest. The pair then carjacked multiple vehicles and headed north.
They were captured on Oct. 10 in SeaTac, Wash. when police there spotted the pair in Ko’s stolen Subaru. “There is an active investigation into other possible criminal activity that took place between the time Mr. Washington escaped in San Bernardino and their capture in Washington,” Deputy District Attorney Molly Manoukian said outside of the courtroom today. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has also charged the couple in connection with the jailbreak, shooting and carjackings.
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