MARTINEZ -- A Southern California couple charged with killing a retired schoolteacher at her Hercules home Oct. 5 fled a Pinole robbery in a stolen pickup shortly before fatally stabbing the woman, prosecutors say.
The nine-count felony complaint against Darnell and Tania Washington alleges that the pair murdered 55-year-old Susie Ko while committing robbery, burglary and a carjacking -- special felony murder allegations that make the husband and wife candidates for a death penalty prosecution.
The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office has not yet announced whether it will pursue capital punishment against the Washingtons.
Darnell Keith Washington, 24, was arraigned in a Richmond courtroom Monday, nearly three weeks after the West Covina couple allegedly led police in SeaTac, Wash., on a high-speed chase in KO's stolen 2011 Subaru Outback and rammed a patrol car.
Darnell Washington, who returns to the Richmond courthouse Nov. 8 for plea entry, was extradited from Washington state Sunday; his wife's extradition is pending.
Authorities say the arrests capped a monthlong crime spree that started when Tania LeJune Washington, 25, helped her husband escape from San Bernardino County Jail on Aug. 28 by jumping a 10-foot fence as he was awaiting trial on robbery charges. Darnell Washington allegedly shot and wounded a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy with a shotgun Sept. 2 to avoid capture.
The couple are only charged locally with crimes that allegedly occurred in Contra Costa County, including a robbery at the Pinole Kmart on Oct. 5 before KO's slaying. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office could not immediately comment Monday on the status of any charges that may be pending against the Washingtons in Southern California.
Prosecutors allege that on Oct. 5, the day of the Ko slaying, the Washingtons were driving a pickup truck that had been stolen from Fremont and stole a hacksaw from a Kmart on Fitzgerald Drive in Pinole.
The Washingtons fought off two Kmart employees who tried to stop the theft, resulting in a charge of second-degree robbery for the Pinole incident, senior deputy DA John Cope said. The stolen pickup truck was found abandoned near the Hercules home in which Ko and her husband raised their children.
The charges allege that Darnell Washington confronted Ko with a knife and a shotgun, and that he was the person who fatally stabbed her.
Darnell Washington is being tried as a "third strike" defendant," because of previous felony convictions in Los Angeles County Superior Court for robbery and carjacking.
Prosecutors were still working on Tania Washington's extradition to Contra Costa County on Monday. She and her husband are both jailed without bail.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.
complaint against Darnell and Tania Washington in the Susie Ko homicide. -