Escapee sentenced to life for Oklahoma couple's killing

U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera sentenced 49-year-old John McCluskey on Tuesday to life followed by a consecutive term of 235 years.
BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Modified: June 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm •  Published: June 4, 2014

An Arizona inmate convicted of kidnapping and murdering a retired Oklahoma couple in New Mexico after he escaped from prison was sentenced Tuesday to life behind bars without the chance of parole.

U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera officially handed down the sentence to John McCluskey, who also received a consecutive term of 235 years. The 49-year-old declined to read a statement at his sentencing.

McCluskey was convicted in October of 20 counts of aggravated murder, carjacking and other charges for the August 2010 slayings of Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh.

Jurors deliberating the sentencing for McCluskey failed to reach a unanimous verdict, deciding they couldn’t agree on the death penalty. That earned McCluskey an automatic life sentence, which wasn’t made official until Tuesday.

“With the help of his conspirators, John Charles McCluskey mercilessly killed two innocent victims and burned their bodies as he fled law enforcement after escaping from prison,” U.S. Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said. “Our thoughts are with those whose lives were changed forever by these heinous crimes.”

McCluskey was serving 15 years for attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault and discharge of a firearm when he and two other prisoners escaped from a medium-security prison near Kingman, Ariz., in July 2010 with the help of McCluskey’s cousin and fiancee, Casslyn Welch.

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