One of the men that fled a northern Arizona prison last year has pleaded guilty to charges relating to the slaying of an Oklahoma couple while on the run, while another escapee is facing trial for the murders and will face the death penalty if convicted.
Tracy Province, 44, could have faced the death penalty in the 2010 carjacking and slayings of Gary and Linda Haas, but under the terms of his plea agreement, will serve five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Casslyn Welch, 45, a Jakes Corner resident who admits she helped Province and two other fugitives escape July 30, 2010, pleaded guilty to the some of the same charges as Province, which include carjacking resulting in death, conspiracy, the use of a firearm during a violent crime and five other charges.
Welch faces up to life in prison, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Province’s fellow escapee John McCluskey remains jailed, his trial for the deaths is scheduled for March 2013.
The Haases were killed Aug. 2, 2010 in the midst of an annual camping trip.
According to court records, McCluskey, Province and Welch carjacked the Haases and drove them to a remote ranch in between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari, N.M.
There, McCluskey allegedly shot and killed the couple and the group drove their trailer to a remote area where they set it on fire, the Haases’ remains inside.
Two days later, the New Mexico State Police discovered the burned remains of the couple and a national manhunt ensued.
Officers arrested Province a week later in Wyoming. He had separated from McCluskey and Welch after the murders.
Officers arrested McCluskey and Welch, who are cousins and engaged, several weeks later. Daniel Renwick, a third man that escaped the Kingman prison with the group, was arrested by police in western Colorado a day after escaping.
The men escaped after cutting a hole through a fence with tools Welch had thrown over. She also supplied the men with money, firearms and a vehicle for Renwick.
In plea agreements, Province and Welch acknowledge conspiring to forcibly carjack the Haases at gunpoint, with the intention of killing them, if necessary, and then following through on their agreement. Both Province and Welch assert or imply that McCluskey shot and killed the Haases and that they assisted in moving the Haases’ pickup truck and trailer, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Both Province and Welch remain in custody pending sentencing hearings.
McCluskey’s mother, Claudia Washburn of Jakes Corner, pleaded guilty last year to hindering prosecution in regards to the case. A judge sentenced her to seven months in jail and she was released in June.