The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

May 7, 2013

Lawyers want DNA kept out of murder suspect’s trial

John McCluskey charged with killing Gary, Linda Haas

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lawyers for an Arizona inmate accused of killing a couple in New Mexico after he escaped from prison want a judge to throw out DNA evidence they say was tainted while being collected.

Attorneys for John Charles McCluskey are expected to be in federal court in Albuquerque through Wednesday for a series of hearings on DNA and ballistics evidence involving the case.

McCluskey was one of three prisoners who authorities say escaped in July 2010 from a medium-security prison near Kingman, Ariz., and then went on a multi-state crime spree.

McCluskey is charged with murder and carjacking in the deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla. Their remains were found with their burned-out camping trailer on a ranch in eastern New Mexico.

The Haases, both 61, had worked for General Motors in Oklahoma City before losing their jobs and were planning on moving back to Southwest City in McDonald County where they were from, according to family members. Linda also had worked as a school teacher in McDonald County before moving to Oklahoma.

Authorities say McCluskey, fellow inmate Tracy Province and accomplice Casslyn Welch went on the spree before being captured.

Province and Welch have pleaded guilty in the murder case and are expected to testify at the upcoming trial of McCluskey, who has pleaded not guilty.

In other filings, prosecutors said McCluskey had a criminal background that included running “an extensive and sophisticated drug importation and distribution enterprise” while imprisoned.

McCluskey’s lawyers have disclosed in a court filing that they plan to present testimony by a forensic neuropsychologist about clinical tests performed on McCluskey.

The testimony might be presented during the guilt-or-innocence phase of trial and, if there is a guilty verdict, during the punishment portion.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

McCluskey is expected to go on trial in federal court in Albuquerque in July.

He was recently being treated for an undisclosed medical condition that has led to weight loss and left him physically and mentally weak, his attorneys said.

 

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