ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A federal magistrate in Albuquerque has granted a request by prosecutors to move two Arizona escaped inmates and their alleged accomplice to New Mexico for a court appearance in the murders of an Oklahoma couple.
John McCluskey, 45, Tracy Province, 42, and Casslyn Welch, 44, face capital murder and carjacking charges in the Aug. 2 deaths of Gary and Linda Haas of Tecumseh, Okla., whose remains were found with their burned-out camping trailer near Santa Rosa.
Magistrate W. Daniel Schneider on Monday directed the Mohave County Sheriff's Office in Kingman to surrender the three defendants to U.S. marshals. The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17 in Albuquerque.
McCluskey, however, faces a hearing today in Kingman to determine if he will be tried first in New Mexico or Arizona, where he faces prison escape, kidnapping, armed robbery and aggravated assault charges. Province and Welch also face those felony charges in Arizona.
A court order prohibited the Sheriff's Office from releasing McCluskey to authorities from any other jurisdiction until Mohave County gives its approval.
Deputy County Attorney Victoria Stazio said Arizona was willing to halt its case, and told a Mohave County judge that no future hearings or a trial date need to be set. Defense attorney John Peechia said in court documents that McCluskey wished to stay in Arizona and resolve the state charges there first.
Kenneth Gonzales, the U.S. attorney in Albuquerque, has said federal authorities hope to prosecute all three defendants first in New Mexico's federal court, where the charges are more serious. McCluskey, Province and Welch face federal charges of conspiracy to commit carjacking, carjacking resulting in death, tampering with a witness, conspiracy and other crimes.
Authorities have said Welch helped McCluskey, Province and another inmate, Daniel Renwick, escape from the Arizona State Prison in Golden Valley on July 31 by throwing wire cutters over a fence. The escape sparked a nationwide manhunt, but all four were recaptured within three weeks.
Prosecutors said the defendants targeted the Haases at an Interstate 40 rest stop because they had grown weary of traveling and sleeping in their car and wanted the couple's camping trailer. The Haases were taken to a remote ranch where they were shot and the trailer was set on fire.