ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Nearly four years after John McCluskey carjacked and murdered a retired couple from Oklahoma, a federal judge handed him a life sentence, plus 235 years.
Family members of victims Gary and Linda Haas, spoke in court before sentencing of the ringleader in the crime-spree, John McCluskey. While the sentence was a formality, it was also a chance for the Haas family to tell McCluskey how they feel about him.
McCluskey sat silently in federal court listening to the Haas’ family members. Gary Haas’ sister had some strong words to say to her brother’s killer before the judge handed him a life sentence.
“You are a disgrace to your mother, your family, society and the human race, and I truly believe that,” Linda Rook told McCluskey. Rook is Gary Haas’ sister. She spoke about her brother’s willingness to go out of his way to help others, adding, “he probably offered to help you.”
The murdered couple’s aunt, Irma Patrick, also addressed McCluskey, showing him photos of the Haas’ grave site.
“All of this was caused by you, Mr. McCluskey,” said Patrick. “This is what you left us with.”
McCluskey declined to address or apologize to the victim’s family in court. He shot and killed the Haas couple as they were traveling through New Mexico in August of 2010, on their way to a camping trip.
McCluskey was a prison escapee on the run from Arizona, with Tracy Province and Casslyn Welch, his cousin/fiance.
The trio hi-jacked the Haas’ camper trailer and McCluskey shot and killed them. Welch, Province and McCluskey burned the trailer, with the Haas’ bodies inside.
The victim’s family members attended the long court battles and Tuesday it was finally over.
“I wanted to get some of my words and some of my mother’s words out there and I think the only way to do it is look the person in the eye,” said Rook, and she did.
Rook told McCluskey, “you’re appropriately dressed in a yellow jumpsuit, the color of the coward.”
McCluskey was up for the death penalty, but three jurors voted against it, which automatically gave him a life sentence.
During her sentence hearing, defense attorneys for Welch pointed out McCluskey’s abusive ways and ability to control his environment even from within prison walls.
When pushing for the death penalty, attorneys argued McCluskey was a potential danger, even in prison.
“I have confidence that the bureau of prisons can do their job and keep him secure and keep him from hurting anybody else,” said Damon Martinez, US Attorney for the District of New Mexico.
Some of Gary and Linda Haas’ family members said they still have questions about a senseless murder that a long trial didn’t quite answer for them.
They hope Tuesday’s ending will help bring them closure.
“Like the judge said, keep our memories of Linda and Gary in our hearts and keep them in the forefront, that’s what I intend to do,” said Sandra Morgan, Linda Haas’ sister. “I cannot sit and dwell on what has happened. It’s over, it’s time to move on.”
Tracy Province was given five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of release for his role in the carjacking and murders.
The judge imposed a 40-year-sentence for Casslyn Welch, but delayed making a final decision for two weeks on her sentence, to permit attorneys to submit briefs on a related issue.
Linda Haas’ sister told McCluskey in court that it’s taken a lot of prayer, but she forgives him. She now has custody of the couple’s 3-year-old grandson, who was born after the murders.