The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 8, 2013

Evidence of prison crimes barred in murder trial of man linked to killing area couple


From staff reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Some evidence will be barred in the upcoming trial of an Arizona prison escapee accused of killing a couple with ties to Southwest Missouri, a federal judge has ruled.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera wrote in an opinion released late last week that jurors won’t hear evidence about John Charles McCluskey’s reported drug dealing in the Kingman, Ariz., prison before he escaped in 2010.

Prosecutors allege McCluskey had a criminal background that included running “an extensive and sophisticated drug importation and distribution enterprise” while imprisoned.

Herrera also ruled that a jury won’t hear about McCluskey’s alleged throat-slashing of a fellow inmate at the same prison.

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

He 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, Mo., 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.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The trial is set to begin later this month.