A federal judge has set sentencing dates for John Charles McCluskey, convicted at trial of kidnapping and murdering a vacationing Oklahoma couple in 2010, and his codefendants in early June.
Gary and Linda Haas were kidnapped from a rest stop on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico for their pickup and RV by two prison escapees and a woman who aided them, taken to a remote spot north of the highway and shot. Their RV was burned on the site with their bodies in it.
McCluskey’s sentence will be life in prison – the automatic sentence because a jury did not reach a unanimous conclusion on the death penalty sought by the prosecution – but a formal sentencing is required at which the victims’ families may speak. Haas family members were present throughout the trial proceedings and are expected to speak at the sentencing hearings.
McCluskey is scheduled for sentencing at 9:30 a.m. June 3 before U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera in Albuquerque. Herrera presided over the five-month trial.
The two others intimately involved in the leadup to the deaths, Tracy Allen Province, the inmate who escaped with McCluskey from a northern Arizona prison, and Casslyn Mae Welch, McCluskey’s cousin and girlfriend whose assistance and planning enabled the escape, will be sentenced the day before, Welch at 9:30 a.m. and Province at 1:30 p.m.
Both entered guilty pleas and testified for the prosecution at trial.
Welch’s cooperation could mean a term of less than life in prison, and her attorneys almost certainly will argue for a reduced sentence.
During cross-examination at the trial, Welch admitted that she hoped for and expected a 20-year sentence.