ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was summer and there was no air conditioning in their cramped car. The escaped Arizona convicts had already driven more than 1,000 miles through three states. They were desperate to find another ride.
Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., had just stopped to make lunch. They were on their way to the mountains of Colorado, where they had spent each of the last 11 summers.
That's when their paths collided with the convicts and their accomplice at a rest stop on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico. Within an hour, the Haases were dead.
It could have been anyone.
In fact, it almost was, according to testimony last week in the capital murder trial of John McCluskey. The first truck and trailer the trio spotted moved on before they could circle back. They ran into the Haases during a bathroom break.
“All I could do was picture my mom and dad,” Tracy Province testified last week. “That's what they did when they retired, was travel around in an RV. And I realized that could have happened to them just as easily as it happened to Mr. and Mrs. Haas.”
That was Aug. 2, 2010, three days after McCluskey and Province escaped from a privately-run medium-security prison near Kingman, Ariz., with the help of McCluskey's cousin and wife, Casslyn Welch.
McCluskey is on trial for the carjacking and slayings of the Haases. Province, who pleaded guilty last year to numerous charges related to the crime rampage, spent three days testifying for the prosecution.
Province detailed the events for jurors, saying he and McCluskey forced the Haases, at gunpoint, to drive west along I-40 and exit onto a lonely two-lane road. McCluskey told the retirees he wasn't going to hurt them as long as they cooperated, and that the trio only wanted the couple's truck, cash and guns.
The plan was to leave them and their trailer in the New Mexico desert, but not too far for them to walk for help, Province said.
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