A New Mexico jury has convicted John McCluskey of capital murder in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple who were fatally shot while parked at a rest area in New Mexico in August 2010.
On Monday, Oct. 7, he was found guilty on all 20 counts. The 12-person jury must now decide whether McCluskey, 48, will receive the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., were parked at a rest area off Interstate 40 in Quay County, N.M., on Aug. 2, 2010, when they were fatally shot. Casslyn Welch, McCluskey’s fiancée and cousin, cooperated with the government in the case against McCluskey. Tracy Province, who escaped at the same time, cooperated as well. Both testified that he pulled the trigger. They claim the trio then drove the Haas’ truck and travel trailer to a remote location and unhitched and burned the trailer with the couple’s bodies inside.
McCluskey and Welch were known as the “Bonnie and Clyde” fugitives after eluding a multi-law enforcement manhunt for nearly three weeks. Previously, Welch testified that she threw wire cutters over the fence to help McCluskey and Province escape from a Kingman, Ariz., prison.
During this time, law enforcement urged truck drivers to be on high alert because McCluskey and Welch both had experience as over-the-road truck drivers and had kidnapped two truck drivers at gunpoint for more than five hours. One of the drivers testified that McCluskey drove their rig to Flagstaff, Ariz., where they were released after the trio secured another vehicle.
Province and Welch have pleaded guilty to their roles in the murders of the Oklahoma couple. Province pleaded guilty to nine of 13 charges. He will be sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of release, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation release.
Welch has pleaded guilty to eight charges and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, according to her plea deal.
McCluskey and Welch were arrested while camping at the edge of the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests in Springerville, Ariz., on Aug. 19, 2010. Province, who had separated from the group earlier, was arrested in Wyoming on Aug. 9, 2010.
See related articles:
Truck driver recounts kidnapping ordeal to New Mexico jury
Law enforcement nabs ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ fugitives in Arizona
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