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UPDATED: Federal Magistrate in ABQ Signs Extradition Order for Arizona Inmates

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Initial hearing for McCluskey, Province and Welch on capital murder and carjacking charges scheduled for Nov. 17 in Albuquerque

 

A federal magistrate in Albuquerque has granted a request by prosecutors to move two Arizona escaped inmates and their alleged accomplice to New Mexico for a court appearance in the murders of an Oklahoma couple.

John McCluskey, 45, Tracy Province, 42, and Casslyn Welch, 44, face capital murder and carjacking charges in the Aug. 2 deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found with their burned-out camping trailer near Santa Rosa.

Magistrate W. Daniel Schneider on Monday directed the Mohave County sheriff in Kingman, Ariz., to surrender the three defendants to U.S. marshals. The hearing was scheduled for Nov. 17 in Albuquerque.

McCluskey, however, faces a hearing Wednesday in Kingman, Ariz., to determine if he will be tried first in New Mexico or Arizona, where he faces prison escape, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault charges. Province and Welch also face those felony charges in Arizona.

A court order prohibited the sheriff’s office from releasing McCluskey to authorities from any other jurisdiction until Mohave County gives its approval.

Deputy County Attorney Victoria Stazio said Arizona was willing to halt its case, and told a Mohave County judge that no future hearings or a trial date need to be set.

Defense attorney John Peechia said in court documents that McCluskey wished to stay in Arizona and resolve the state charges there first.

Kenneth Gonzales, the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, has said federal authorities hope to prosecute all three defendants first in New Mexico’s federal court, where the charges are more serious. McCluskey, Province and Welch face federal charges of conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, tampering with a witness, conspiracy and other crimes.

Authorities have said Welch helped McCluskey, Province and another inmate, Daniel Renwick, escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman on July 31 by throwing wire cutters over a fence. The escape sparked a nationwide manhunt, but all four were recaptured within three weeks.

Prosecutors said the defendants targeted the Haases at an Interstate 40 rest stop because they had grown weary of traveling and sleeping in their car and wanted the couple’s camping trailer. The Haases were taken to a remote ranch where they were shot and the trailer was set on fire.

The Haases, both 61, were traveling to Pagosa Springs, Colo., for a camping trip. Gonzales has said they were “two people on vacation who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

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Associated Press writer Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., contributed to this report.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Thursday, 30 September 2010 17:25

 

A federal grand jury has indicted two Arizona prison escapees and a woman who allegedly helped them escape on capital murder and carjacking charges in the New Mexico deaths of an Oklahoma couple.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Gonzales said Thursday that John Charles McCluskey, 45, Tracy Allen Province, 42, and Casslyn Mae Welch, 44, could face the death penalty if convicted. The three are accused in the murders of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found with their burned-out recreational trailer near Santa Rosa.

McCluskey, Province and Welch face charges of conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, tampering with a witness, conspiracy and other crimes.

Prosecutors have said the three targeted the couple at an Interstate 40 rest stop because they had grown weary of traveling and sleeping in a car, and wanted to steal the couple’s camping trailer. The Haases were taken to a remote ranch where they were shot, and the trailer was set on fire Aug. 2.

The Haases, both 61, were traveling to Pagosa Springs, Colo., for a camping trip. Gonzales has said they simply were “two people on vacation who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Authorities said the three defendants remain in Arizona custody and prosecutors will next seek to extradite them to New Mexico.

The three face felony charges in Arizona of escape, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault. In court documents posted Thursday in Arizona’s Mohave County, McCluskey’s attorney requested that the case be sent back to the grand jury.

John Peechia claimed the prosecutor didn’t explain to grand jurors how to change the indictment, if they wished, because it was under their scope of authority. He also said testimony the state elicited from a detective — that McCluskey was both engaged to and is the first cousin of Welch — served no purpose but to prejudice the jurors.

He also raised concern that one of the grand jurors might not have been qualified.

“Had these errors not occured, there is reasonable doubt as to whether the grand jury would have come to the same conclusion,” Peechia wrote in his request.

The prosecutor named in the document did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Investigators said Welch helped McCluskey, Province and Daniel Renwick escape from the Arizona State Prison in Kingman on July 31 by throwing wire cutters over a fence. The escape sparked a nationwide manhunt.

Renwick, who split from the group, was recaptured Aug. 1 in Colorado. The three others went on a multistate crime spree before Province was arrested in Wyoming on Aug. 8 and McCluskey and Welch were arrested in Arizona on Aug. 19.

Unable to locate a getaway vehicle Welch had stashed in the desert, McCluskey, Province and Welch kidnapped two tractor-trailer drivers using handguns Welch had obtained.

When McCluskey was arrested with Welch near Springerville, Ariz., authorities said he expressed regret at missing a chance to kill the U.S. Forest Service ranger who led to their capture.

 

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Associated Press Writer Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., contributed to this report.

 

 


 

 

 

Thursday, 30 September 2010 14:33

 

A federal grand jury in New Mexico has indicted two Arizona prison escapees and their accomplice on capital murder and carjacking charges in the Aug. 2 deaths of an Oklahoma couple.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Albuquerque says 45-year-old John Charles McCluskey, 42-year-old Tracy Allen Province and 44-year-old Casslyn Mae Welch could face the death penalty if convicted.

They are accused in the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found in August in their burned-out recreational trailer near Santa Rosa.

Authorities say the three defendants remain in Arizona custody and prosecutors will next seek to extradite them to New Mexico.

 

 

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