MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

October 21, 2013

Penalty phase of inmate murder trial opens

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The penalty phase opens today in the capital murder trial of John McCluskey, who faces a possible death sentence for the killings of a retired Oklahoma couple following a 2010 Arizona prison break.

Jurors who convicted McCluskey earlier this month after a four-month trial come back for what could be an even longer round of testimony on whether he should be executed or sentenced life in prison.

Much of the testimony is expected to focus on McCluskey’s psychological state. Family members of the victims say they also will be called to push for the death sentence.

McCluskey, 48, was convicted Oct. 7 of murder, carjacking and other charges in the August 2010 deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh.

They were making their annual summer trek to Colorado when they crossed paths with McCluskey and two other fugitives seeking a better vehicle for their getaway.

McCluskey was serving 15 years for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm when he and two other prisoners escaped from a medium-security prison near Kingman, Ariz., in July 2010 with the help of his cousin and fiancee, Casslyn Welch.

One of the inmates was quickly captured after a shootout with authorities in Colorado, while McCluskey, Welch and inmate Tracy Province headed to New Mexico. Their escape and ensuing crimes sparked a nationwide manhunt and an Interpol alert.

Province and Welch pleaded guilty last year to charges of carjacking resulting in death, conspiracy, the use of a firearm during a violent crime and other charges.

They both fingered McCluskey as the triggerman.

The victims, who were high school sweethearts and recent retirees from General Motors, were making their 11th summer trip to Colorado when they were killed three days after the prison break.

1
Text Only
Oklahoma News
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Poll

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

Yes
No
     View Results
Featured Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks