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Jury selection begins in slaying of Oklahoma couple

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for an Arizona inmate who escaped from prison and is accused of killing a retired couple who was traveling through New Mexico.

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, AP Published: July 22, 2013
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for an Arizona inmate who escaped from prison and is accused of killing a retired couple who was traveling through New Mexico.

John McCluskey is the last defendant to face federal carjacking and murder charges in the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla. The Haases' were headed to Colorado for an annual camping trip when they were targeted for their truck and travel trailer.

McCluskey was one of three prisoners who escaped from a medium-security prison near Kingman 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 spree that sparked a three-week nationwide manhunt.

Province and Welch pleaded guilty last year to charges stemming from the Haases' deaths and both face life sentences. They are expected to testify during McCluskey's trial.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty if McCluskey is convicted.

McCluskey has made no secret of his desire to steer clear of a trial and the death penalty. He agreed to plea negotiations earlier this year, but federal prosecutors said they were intent on moving toward trial.

The trial was also delayed earlier this year while McCluskey was treated for an undisclosed medical condition that resulted in weight loss and left him physically and mentally weak.

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