MARTINEZ -- A Southern California couple charged in the 2012 stabbing death of a Hercules woman pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Monday.

Darnell and Tania Washington, represented by separate counsel, are charged with nine felony counts each, including murder in the death of retired schoolteacher Susie Ko. They were ordered to stand trial after a four-day preliminary hearing in July.

As during the prelim, the Washingtons were separated at Monday's hearing. Tania Washington, wearing shackles around her waist and wrists, sat at a table. Darnell Washington stood in the courtroom's prisoners enclosure. A few of Ko's family members and friends attended the brief hearing.

Prosecutors say Ko's killing was part of a wild crime spree by the Washingtons that began with Darnell's escape from San Bernardino County jail on Aug. 28, 2012, and ended with their capture, while driving Ko's car, near Seattle on Oct. 10.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 8.

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



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