ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A federal judge sentenced Tracy Province, 46, and Casslyn Welch, 47, for participating in a plot to carjack and murder a retired couple from Oklahoma in Aug. 2010.
U.S. District Judge Judith C. Herrera of the District of New Mexico sentenced Province to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of release as required by his plea agreement. Judge Herrera imposed a 40-year prison sentence on Welch, but delayed imposing a final judgment for two weeks to allow attorneys to submit briefs on a related issue.
Province escaped from an Arizona prison in 2010 along with John McCluskey, and another inmate, with the assistance of Casslyn Welch. The three then forcefully carjacked Gary and Linda Haas and their camper trailer, as the couple was traveling through New Mexico.
Province was sentenced late Monday afternoon. Welch helped Province and her boyfriend/cousin, McCluskey escape from prison.
Their escape sparked a manhunt, and the murders of the Haas’. McCluskey shot and killed the Haas’. Province, Welch and McCluskey then burned the camper trailer with the Haas’ bodies inside.
The federal judge Monday, said she’s considering a 40 year sentence for Welch, which is something the defense attorneys argued wasn’t fair, since McCluskey was the actual killer in this case.
Welch’s attorneys played audio recordings of phone calls that took place before the murders, between McCluskey and Welch while McCluskey was in the Arizona prison.
In the conversations, McCluskey threatened Welch at points, and coerced his mother to get Welch to visit him.
A psychologist described Welch and McCluskey’s relationship as “an avenue for abuse,” and said Welch did what he told her out of fear.
In the recordings, defense attorneys painted a picture of how McCluskey would control his environment even from inside prison.
Defense attorneys for Welch argued that if she gets the 40 years, that’ll be equivalent to a life sentence, adding, Welch’s testimony was crucial in the trial and conviction of McCluskey.
The mastermind of the crime, John McCluskey, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, however it’s a formality. When jurors failed to unanimously vote for the death penalty, McCluskey automatically got a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Earlier this month, McCluskey asked that his sentencing date be moved up. McCluskey is the one who actually pulled the trigger, killing Gary and Linda Haas.