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10:17 PM Thu, Nov. 15th

Escapee in no mood to bargain

Unlike accomplices, McCluskey hasn't cut a deal with prosecutors

KINGMAN - Escaped inmate John McCluskey is the last of the defendants involved in last summer's prison break to be sentenced locally, but it appears he won't be cutting any deals with the state like his accomplices.

McCluskey's public defender, John Pecchia, has filed a handful of motions with the Mohave County Superior Court in connection with the case. One attempts to throw out statements made by two truckers reportedly kidnapped by two of the escapees because the drivers, one of whom served as a translator for the other who spoke no English, viewed photo lineups of the suspects together, which Pecchia believes tainted the identification process.

Pecchia also wrote in his motion that while both drivers said the men had tattoos, they weren't able to describe them. The drivers did, however, describe the orange jumpsuits worn by at least one of the escapees.

The truck drivers were reportedly carjacked by McCluskey, fellow inmate Tracy Province and McCluskey's girlfriend, Casslyn Welch, within an hour or two of their escape from the state prison off of Interstate 40 near Golden Valley on the night of July 30. The drivers had pulled over to switch shifts when they were kidnapped.

The men were released unharmed in Flagstaff but told police that the three suspects voted on whether to kill the drivers. McCluskey allegedly voted to kill the men while Province and Welch voted against it.

Pecchia has also filed a motion to sever the escape charge from the kidnapping and aggravated assault charges, saying that just because the escape happened before the carjacking doesn't necessarily connect it to the other charges. In addition, Pecchia feels it could prejudice a jury.

"General outrage over the escape, both directed at McCluskey and at the prison facility, threatens to prejudice a jury and deny him a fair hearing on the remaining counts," he wrote.

The motions will be argued in court before Judge Steven Conn on Tuesday. Conn has yet to rule on a motion filed by Channel 12 news to allow cameras in the courtroom during McCluskey's trial, set for this summer.

Welch and Province are currently in New Mexico where they, along with McCluskey, face federal murder charges for the deaths of an Oklahoma couple reportedly killed for their travel trailer.

Welch and Province both reached deals with prosecutors resolving their cases here. Welch was sentenced to 20 years in prison and Province received more than 50 years in connection with the escape and kidnapping charges.