Thorsten Rushing will stand trial in first-degree murder case

LAWTON, Okla._Thorsten Rushing, the Lawton teenager accused of killing his father and younger brother was ordered to stand trial for the murders.

Rushing was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing, his four closest friends, who prosecutors say helped plan and pull off the killings, are also charged in the case. Those four testified against him as part of a potential plea deal during the preliminary hearing.

The most chilling testimony came from Ethan Thompson, who said he saw Rushing shoot his younger brother. He also talked in detail about his role in getting rid of the evidence. Thompson says he sat in a closet in the house for hours waiting for the murder to happen so he could remove the evidence that would implicate Rushing, and allow him to finish staging the home invasion.

Thompson testified that Thorsten first started talking about killing his father and brother a few months before it happened. He said Rushing told him and the others that his father would get drunk and abuse him. Thorsten went on to tell them if he killed his father, there would be a life insurance policy he could collect on. Rushing would also need to kill his brother to eliminate him as a witness and allow him to keep all the money that he could share with group for their involvement.

On the evening of the murders, Thompson said Rushing helped him sneak into the house while Uwe and Stefan weren't watching. He sat in a closet for several hours, waiting to hear the gunshots. He said he heard seven shots fired, and when he walked into the room, he saw Rushing shooting his brother through a sofa cushion.

Thompson said the shot did not kill Stefan, though.  So, he said, Rushing found a pair of gloves and suffocated his brother. Thompson then grabbed the clothes, the gun and the casings and took off in a car with Wesley Bankston, who also testified Wednesday.

Bankston said Rushing had told them to drive to a gas station and to call him from there, so he would know they had gotten away, and Rushing then fired the shotgun blast that added to the home invasion alibi. He says he and Thompson then drove to an area near Lake Lawtonka where they burned all the evidence, except the murder weapon. Bankston said Rushing originally allowed him to keep the gun, and he actually took it out and fired it the next day. Once police began their investigation, Rushing told Bankston to get rid of the gun, but Bankston said he was unable to before he was also called in for questioning.

Three of the four co-defendants were also scheduled to have their preliminary hearings, but they were postponed while their plea bargains are being considered.  None of them have changed their pleas yet, or signed any agreements with prosecutors.

A date has not been set for the formal arraignment, that announcement is expected within the next thirty days. There was no comment on whether or not the state will seek the death penalty.