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Friday, October 01, 2010
Trio May Face Federal Death Penalty in Slayings
By Scott Sandlin
Journal Staff Writer
What could become a federal death penalty case against two Arizona prison escapees and the woman who helped them has been filed in the Aug. 2 shooting deaths of Gary and Linda Haas.
The Haases, an Oklahoma couple on a camping trip, were allegedly abducted from a rest stop on Interstate 40.
The indictment charges John Charles McCluskey, Tracy Allen Province and Casslyn Mae Welch with conspiracy to commit carjacking resulting in death, among other crimes.
The couple's charred remains were found on a ranch near Colonias, inside their burned-out camper.
The three are also charged with tampering with a witness, conspiracy to interfere with commerce, using a firearm in a violent crime and being fugitives from justice. McCluskey and Province are also charged with being felons in possession of firearms.
Under the federal protocol for capital crimes, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales will make a recommendation to the U.S. Department of Justice about whether to seek the death penalty against each of the three. DOJ's capital crimes unit considers the recommendation, along with information presented by the defense teams weighing against it.
The committee recommendation ultimately goes to the U.S. attorney general for approval.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Linda Mott and Shana Pennington are prosecuting the case.
All three defendants, currently in state custody in Arizona, have been appointed two attorneys each. The teams include out-of-state lawyers Judy Clarke of San Diego, whose clients have included Unabomber Ted Kaczynski; Michael Burt of San Francisco, who defended serial killer Richard Ramirez and Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph; and Mark Fleming of San Diego, who defended accused Aryan Brotherhood defendant Travis Dally in a federal capital murder case in New Mexico.
McCluskey, 45, and Welch, 44, were arrested Aug. 19 at an Arizona campground after a nationwide manhunt.
Law enforcement caught up with Province, 43, on Aug. 9 in Meeteetse, Wyo.