Capital murder trial begins for Arizona fugitive

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm •  Published: August 19, 2013
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Prosecutors have said the Haases, both 61, were targeted for their pickup truck and travel trailer when they stopped at a rest area near the Texas-New Mexico state line.

According to court documents, they were forced at gunpoint to drive to a desolate spot off of Interstate 40, where they were then ordered into their trailer and shot. The truck and trailer were then driven miles down a series of dirt roads to a more remote location. The trailer was unhitched and torched, with the Haases' bodies inside.

It was two days before a ranch hand discovered the crime scene and called authorities. Among the charred debris were skull fragments, eyeglass frames and Linda Haas' wedding ring.

During Fouratt's opening statement, he displayed photos of the fugitives' weapons and the burned-out trailer.

To provide timelines for the separate trips of the victims and the fugitives, the prosecution showed images from surveillance cameras at various locations and traced their journey on a map. One of the surveillance images showed Gary Haas wearing his John Deere cap, the same cap that McCluskey was wearing when arrested.

McCluskey and the other prisoners escaped in July 2010, with the help of his cousin and fiance, Casslyn Welch. One of the inmates was quickly captured after a shootout with authorities in Colorado, while McCluskey, Welch and inmate Tracy Province embarked on a crime rampage that sparked a three-week nationwide manhunt.

Burt, the defense attorney, said the case is as much about two separate trips colliding as it is about "individuals seeking freedom." He pointed to the Haases enjoying the open road and the inmates taking advantage of an opportunity to get beyond the prison walls.

Province and Welch pleaded guilty last year to charges stemming from the Haases' deaths. Both face life sentences.

McCluskey was previously serving 15 years in Arizona for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm.

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Follow Susan Montoya Bryan at http://www.twitter.com/susanmbryanNM.