Home » Uncategorized » McCluskey Indicted for Murder of 61-Year Old Couple on Vacation, Trial Continues

McCluskey Indicted for Murder of 61-Year Old Couple on Vacation, Trial Continues

Contact Attorney Jason Chan

Attorney Jason Chan

267 North Beacon Street, Suite 3
Boston MA 01235

Phone: 781-343-1DUI (781-343-1384)
Fax: 617-226-7986

Prison fugitive John McCluskey was charged with the murder of Gary and Linda Haas, both 61 years old and on their yearly trip to Colorado. McCluskey shot them, charred their bodies and their trailer, and escaped in their pickup truck along with his two accomplices. McCluskey was serving 15 years in Arizona prison for second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and discharge of a firearm. In 2010, McCluskey and fellow inmate Tracy Province escaped from prison with the help of McCluskey’s fiance (and cousin) Casslyn Welch. On August 2, 2010, McCluskey, Welsh and Province met with their victims at a Texas-New Mexico state line highway stop. The Haas couple had been married for over 40 years and they were on their annual trip from their home in Oklahoma to Colorado in their pickup truck and tractor-trailer. On August 2, McCluskey, Welsh and Province forced the couple to drive to Interstate 40, pushed them into a remote location at gunpoint, and then shot them inside their trailer. Then, McCluskey and his accomplices got rid of the bodies by placing them into the trailer and setting it on fire. Only two days later, a ranch worker discovered the remains of the trailer:skull fragments, eyeglass frames, and Mrs. Haas‘s wedding ring. Authorities were contacted immediately, and the three criminals were captured within three weeks of the nationwide search.

The Prosecution’s Take on the Case and Their Charges Against McCluskey

Prosecutors have been clear on their stance, and sought the capital punishment for McCluskey after examining the evidence in the case. According to prosecutor Greg Fouratt, ultimately this case is about the targeting, the carjacking, the shooting to death and the incineration of a husband and wife. The prosecution’s case is built around the criminals’ cruel murder of two defenseless retirees for their pickup truck. Fouratt is confident that the 50 witnesses and at least 100 exhibits accumulated by the prosecution will convict McCluskey for his crimes.. The prosecution will weave a story about the August 2 meeting between an innocent older couple and a group of murderous prison escapees in order to tear at the jury’s emotions. The prosecution, however, is unafraid to puncture the prosecution’s evidence.

The Defense Is Unafraid To Talk About The Case

Despite the heavy amount of firsthand evidence against McCluskey from the accomplices themselves, defense attorney Michael Burt is confident about his client’s case. Burt stated that the prosecution’s heaviest evidence comes from unreliable sources. McCluskey’s fellow inmate Tracy Province has a history of violent crimes and drug abuse, while McCluskey’s fiancée allegedly lied to the investigators on multiple occasions. Furthermore, both accomplices already made deals with the prosecution enabling them to escape the death penalty, and thus might have a higher interest in saving themselves than being sincere. Nevertheless, McCluskey was arrested wearing Gary Haas’ baseball cap, and evidence as seemingly minute may sway the jury against his case.

The Death Penalty in McCluskey’s Case

The defense is confident that the government will be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that McCluskey is guilty. Accordingly, the defense is avoiding the death penalty and stating that the prosecution has no proof that McCluskey shot the Haas couple. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Eighth Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment and thus compels the jury to determine a penalty that is proportional to the crime. In this case, McCluskey not only shot both Gary and Linda Haas, but he also intentionally burned their trailer to get rid of evidence. In a 2002 Ring v. Arizona decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a jury must find an aggravating factor that will increase the culpability for a criminal act; only then can the judge impose the death penalty rather than a lesser punishment. The McCluskey trial is expected to go on for up to four months of arduous jury work in order to observe the examinations and cross-examinations requisite for McCluskey’s conviction of capital murder (or a lesser punishment if the defense can persuade the jury). Seemingly pulled out of a crime novel, the McCluskey case is one that will resonate with the jury. The murder of two defenseless grandparents compelled media attention and provoked a national visceral response. Accordingly, this would not only be a feat for the prosecution but also a public policy victory.

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