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Hearing Waived by Woman Accused of Killing Daughters

A Laguna Niguel woman accused of fatally shooting her two young daughters waived her right to a preliminary hearing in South Orange Municipal Court on Tuesday.

The move by defense attorneys paves the way for 39-year-old Kristine Marie Cushing to be arraigned on murder charges in Superior Court in Santa Ana next Tuesday.

Cushing looked haggard as she entered the prisoner’s dock for a brief hearing before Judge Arthur G. Koelle.

She is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of daughters Amy Elizabeth, 8, and Stephanie Marie, 4, on Oct. 13. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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Cushing allegedly used a .38-caliber handgun to shoot her daughters in the head in the master bedroom of their Laguna Niguel home before turning the weapon on herself. She suffered a graze wound to the head and moments later called 911 to report what had happened, authorities said.

She filed for divorce in September and court records depict her as a woman under great stress because of a heart condition and the failure of her 17-year marriage to Marine Lt. Col. John P. Cushing Jr., a Gulf War veteran and commander of an El Toro-based fighter jet squadron.

Defense attorneys have acknowledged that they are investigating whether the woman’s use of the antidepressant drug Prozac played a role in the killings.


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