MARTINEZ -- A retired schoolteacher fatally wounded in her Hercules home in October 2012 suffered 21 stab wounds to her right side and a fractured skull, a Contra Costa District Attorney's Office inspector testified Tuesday at a hearing to determine whether a West Covina couple should stand trial for killing her.
Inspector John Conaty, who was present at the autopsy of Susie Ko, 55, consulted the autopsy report of Dr. Arthur Josselsson as he testified about the brutal attack on the former kindergarten and second grade teacher. Conaty appeared at the preliminary hearing of Darnell and Tania Washington, charged with a crime wave that began with a prison break in San Bernardino, included the random attack on Ko, and ended with their apprehension after a car chase near Seattle, with Tania Washington telling one of the arresting officers, "It would have been better if you killed me."
Tuesday was the second day of their hearing, in which prosecutor Molly Manoukian seeks to present enough evidence to convince Judge Patricia Scanlon to hold the couple for trial.
Detective Brian Schoonmaker of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department reviewed hours of telephone conversation between the defendants while Darnell Washington was incarcerated in San Bernardino County jail. The last of those calls, he testified, came on Oct. 2, 2012, with Tania Washington sitting in her car outside the jail looking at the guards to determine the best time for Darnell Washington to make his break.
Shortly after his escape, Schoonmaker said, a sheriff's deputy encountered the Washingtons at a strip mall in El Monte. A gunbattle ensued between Darnell Washington and the deputy, with the deputy being hit by shotgun pellets in the forehead, chin and forearms. The Washingtons escaped, Schoonmaker said, in a stolen car.
They attempted six carjackings -- five successful -- in the subsequent 20 minutes. Darnell Washington, Schoonmaker said, fired his shotgun at one driver who refused to stop his car.
The Washington are suspected of killing Ko in Hercules on Oct. 5, 2012, and stealing her car. King's County Sheriff's Detective Clayton Minshull testified that the Washingtons were taken into custody on Oct. 10, 2012.
Neither suspect was cooperative, he testified. Darnell Washington was struck with a stun gun when he lunged at officers. Tania Washington, the detective said, was screaming "constantly." Referencing a report written by a sheriff's deputy, Minshull said the Washingtons conversed with each other during the confusion.
"Baby, we stayed too long," Darnell Washington told his wife. "I knew it. We stayed too long. I'm sorry, baby."
Tania Washington, Minshull said, told one of the arresting officers, "I'm going to jail forever. You should have shot me."
The hearing continues Thursday morning.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.