MARTINEZ -- A husband and wife charged with nine felony counts related to the 2012 stabbing death of a Hercules woman were ordered by a judge Thursday to stand trial on all charges and enhancements.

Judge Patricia Scanlon made the ruling on the fourth day of a preliminary hearing in which a prosecutor sought to show sufficient evidence to bind Tania and Darnell Washington over for trial in the slaying of Susie Ko, a retired kindergarten teacher. The Washingtons, represented by separate counsel, will be arraigned in Contra Costa Superior Court on Aug. 11.

Tania and Darnell Washington  (Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department photos)
Tania and Darnell Washington (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department photos)

"It has been a long, frustrating journey as we have waited almost two years for the preliminary trial," said Sandy Ko, Susie Ko's eldest daughter in a statement, "but it's a huge relief that the outcome did not go any other way. We are very pleased with the job the district attorney has done, and thank all family and friends that continue to support us."

In making her ruling, Scanlon challenged the credibility of a psychologist who testified that Tania Washington was a battered woman and psychological hostage of her husband, and the argument of Larry Barnes, one of Tania Washington's two attorneys, that his client was "a factually innocent woman ... who was present with a husband who was a criminal maniac."


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"I think the district attorney provided more than enough evidence to show they acted together," Scanlon said.

Police say that on Aug. 28, 2012, Tania Washington helped Darnell Washington escape from San Bernardino County Jail, where he was awaiting trial on robbery charges. Five days later, Darnell Washington shot and wounded a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. The couple committed several carjackings before fleeing Southern California to Fresno, Fremont and eventually Hercules, where they sought another vehicle to use in their flight from authorities.

Susie Ko was found dead in her Hercules, Calif., home on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. (Courtesy of Simon Ko)
Susie Ko was found dead in her Hercules, Calif., home on Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. (Courtesy of Simon Ko) ( Simon Ko )

"They went to Mrs. Ko's house, they went inside and they murdered her," prosecutor Molly Manoukian said in her final argument Thursday.

Ko was killed Oct. 5. The Washingtons, driving Ko's Subaru Outback, were arrested near Seattle on Oct. 10.

"I am glad that Judge Scanlon was able to hear enough testimony to bring this to trial," said Hercules Councilman Dan Romero, who was mayor when Ko was killed. "The defendants will have their day in court. The evidence will speak for Susie Ko."

Given the charges and enhancements, the couple are eligible for death penalty prosecution. The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office has not announced whether or not it will seek capital punishment.

Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.