2010 Arizona prison escape

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On July 30, 2010, three inmates — Tracy Province, Daniel Renwick, and John McCluskey — escaped from the Kingman Arizona State Prison, a for-profit medium security prison, owned by the Mohave County Industrial Development Authority and operated by the Management and Training Corporation. A female accomplice named Casslyn Welch, who was engaged to McCluskey, assisted the escape. In the next three weeks, local law enforcement captured Renwick in Colorado, Province in Wyoming and finally Welch and McCluskey in Arizona.

Escape and captures[edit]

Three inmates, Tracy Alan Province (born September 18, 1967), Daniel Kelly Renwick (born August 10, 1973), and John Charles McCluskey (born February 27, 1965),[1] were all convicted of violent crimes. Province was serving a life sentence for murder and armed robbery, Renwick was serving two consecutive 22-year terms for two murders, and McCluskey was serving two 15 year terms for attempted second-degree murder and other crimes.[2][3] They escaped the prison with the help of female accomplice Casslyn Mae Welch (born July 21, 1966),[1] a first cousin and fiancée of McCluskey. She was on his visitation list and lived in Mesa, Arizona,[2][4] In June, Welch was arrested outside the Kingman prison under accusations she tried to smuggle drugs in the prison.[5]

On the evening of July 30, Welch drove a Chevy Blazer behind the prison and threw small bolt cutters and lineman's pliers over a chain-linked fence to the three prisoners.[2][6][7] The inmates cut a hole in the fence, abandoned the tools, and escaped. Alarms went off without response around 9 p.m. local time related to the fence breaching activity. Having separated from the other three, Renwick absconded with the getaway car. McCluskey, Province, and Welch walked to Interstate 40, hijacked a semi-trailer truck stopped along a ramp, forced the drivers into the sleeper and left the truck with the drivers unharmed in Flagstaff.[4]

At 12:47 a.m. on August 1 in Rifle, Colorado, approximately 670 miles (1,080 km) from the prison, Renwick was arrested. A sheriff's deputy responding to a suspicious vehicle call spotted him driving McCluskey's brown Chevy Blazer. Renwick fired a gun at a police car that had joined the chase after the officer activated emergency lights. Along with the deputy's cruiser, the officer gave chase on Interstate 70 eastbound, rammed the SUV at the parking lot of Red River Inn in Rifle, and arrested Renwick without further incident.[3][8]

On April 22, 2011, Renwick was consecutively sentenced to 48 years in Colorado state prison for one count of attempted first degree murder plus 12 more for a second count, involving shooting at law enforcement personnel. To avoid the costs of extradition and trial, the escape charges from the for-profit prison in Mohave were dropped. He has 32 years left to serve on his original two Arizona second degree murder convictions, should he be released from the Colorado prison system.[9]

Province was apprehended on August 8 in Meeteetse, Wyoming, near Yellowstone National Park, hitchhiking on the highway, carrying a sign reading "Casper" and a handgun. The previous day, Province visited the Meeteetse Community Church the day prior and sang along with its congregation, and one worshipper stated that Province looked like the many local hitchhikers. The pastor of the church paid Province $40 and gave him a jacket for mowing the church lawn.[10] Province told a news reporter that he escaped from prison because he did not want to die there.[11]

McCluskey and Welch were assumed to have headed toward Canada after being seen in Billings, Montana on August 6.[4] At 7 p.m. on August 19, 2010, a tactical-response team of Apache County, Arizona sheriff's deputies, with the help of the Arizona Department of Public Safety and United States Forest Service, captured the duo at a campground near Sunrise Ski Resort. A U.S. Forest Service employee approached what he thought was an unattended fire, found a Nissan Sentra backed into trees, and discovered through its license plate that the license plate was stolen from a vehicle near where the elderly couple was murdered in New Mexico. The Forest Service reported the sighting to the United States Marshals command post in Phoenix.[5]

Subsequent criminal charges[edit]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Albuquerque accused McCluskey, Province, and Welch of carjacking vacationing Tecumseh, Oklahoma couple Gary and Linda Haas, their pickup truck, and trailer at an Interstate 40 rest stop in Quay County, New Mexico, killing the Haases in their trailer while between Santa Rosa, New Mexico and Tucumcari, New Mexico, driving the truck to a remote farm near Colonias in Guadalupe County, New Mexico, and abandoning and burning the trailer with the remains of the murder victims still inside.[12] The escapees all faced charges of escaping prison, and Welch faced charges of assisting their escape. McCluskey's mother Claudia Washburn and ex-wife Diana Joy Glattfelder were both arrested on suspicion of aiding the escape additionally.[5] All the fugitives were booked into county jails locally where they were captured; McCluskey and Welch were reported to be in solitary confinement.[3][5][11]

On August 10, 2010, Province signed a waiver of extradition and declined to have a public defender.[13] In Albuquerque, a federal grand jury on September 30 indicted McCluskey, Province, and Welch on capital murder and carjacking charges related to the deaths of the Gary and Linda Haas, and federal magistrate W. Daniel Schneider signed on October 25 an extradition order to New Mexico for the three.[14] Mohave County judge Steven Conn on December 17 denied a motion by Province's attorney Ron Gilleo to hold Province's trial outside the county, ruling that despite negative media coverage there can be a fair jury locally.[15]

In Maricopa County Superior Court, Claudia Washburn pled guilty to hindering prosecution on November 24 and admitted as part of a plea deal that she supplied money through a third party to her son McCluskey. On January 7, 2011, Washburn was sentenced to seven months in prison.[16][17]

McCluskey's ex-wife Glattfelder pled guilty to attempting to hinder prosecution on November 30 and face sentencing on January 7, 2011.[18]

McCluskey, Province and Welch were indicted for murder brought by Kenneth J. Gonzales, now a federal judge but then the U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All three were soon extradited for the alleged robbery, hijack and murder of the two vacationers in New Mexico. Retired federal judge James Aubrey Parker offered to mediate the plea bargain to save the expenditure of perhaps millions of dollars on the murder trial and appeals, but his offer was refused by Gonzales.[19]

The trial began with jury selection on July 22, 2013.[20]

McCluskey was convicted after a three-month trial in Albuquerque on October 7, 2013. Province and Welch had testified against him, per conditions of their respective plea bargains, as did Glattfelder. The death penalty phase of the proceedings was scheduled to begin on October 21.[21]

On December 11, 2013, after a five-month trial, McCluskey was found to be not eligible for the death penalty. Three jurors voted against the capital charge. Steven Yarborough, acting U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, asked if the millions spent on the trial was worth it, said it wasn't his call.[22]

Sentencing of final three defendants[edit]

The sentencing of McCluskey to life imprisonment plus 235 years was held on June 3, 2014.[23][24] Province was sentenced to life, the preceding day, per a plea bargain in exchange for testimony against McCluskey. Welch, 47, was also sentenced on June 2, 2014, to 40 years, per her own plea bargain. Despite a defense request for a 20-year sentence and prosecution acknowledgement that Welch had provided “substantial assistance” against her co-defendants, U.S. District Judge Judith C. Herrera noted that Welch would have faced life plus 85 years in prison had she not provided assistance. Mark Fleming, attorney for Welch in what began as a death penalty case against all three defendants, characterized the 40 years as a de facto life sentence for his client.[25]

Prison security issues[edit]

A state report on the escape outlined security breakdowns at the privately run prison contributing to the escape:[26]

  • The alarm system falsely went off so often that prison personnel often ignored it; 89 alarms sounded during the 16 hours around the escape.
  • Eight yard floodlights burned out.
  • Prison guards lacked proper firearms training, and the prison lacked a proper weapons inventory.
  • 75% of inmates did not have proper identification.

After the capture, Arizona moved 148 Kingman inmates to other prisons and further restricted which inmates would reside in minimum- and medium-security prisons.[26] Although the late Management & Training Corporation (MTC) founder Robert L. Marquardt claimed that this was the "first major glitch" of the corporation, in fact MTC experienced at least a dozen prior escapes in four other states and many riots and murders in five states and Canada.[27] Mohave County, Arizona sent MTC a bill of $23,587.68 related to pursuing and capturing the fugitives.[28]

Terry Goddard, Arizona Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2010 challenging incumbent Republican governor Jan Brewer, stated in response to the escape: "The Brewer administration has consistently promoted private over public prisons, in spite of the public safety risk. The escape of these two violent offenders makes it clear how dangerous this policy has been."[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith, Matthew J.; Stazio, Victoria (August 19, 2010). "Felony Indictment". Mohave County, Arizona. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Accomplice helped convicted murderers escape, Arizona authorities say". CNN. July 31, 2010. Archived from the original on 9 November 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Shrull, Dale (August 2, 2010). "Escaped Arizona inmate nabbed in Rifle". Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Allen, Jenny (August 20, 2010). "John Charles McCluskey: Case". America's Most Wanted. Fox Broadcasting Company. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hensley, JJ (August 20, 2010). "Arizona inmate and fiancée captured in Apache County". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  6. ^ Allen, Jenny (August 20, 2010). "Casslyn Mae Welch: Case". America's Most Wanted. Fox Broadcasting Company. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Outstanding Prison Escapees" (Press release). Mohave County Sheriff's Office. July 31, 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "Authorities capture one of three escaped convicts in Colorado". CNN. August 2, 2010. Archived from the original on 8 November 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Gardner, John (April 23, 2011). "Ariz. escapee sentenced to 60 years in prison". Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Escaped murderer sought in Yellowstone caught in Meeteetse, Wyo.". The Billings Gazette. August 9, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b "Escaped killer broke out of jail because he 'didn't want to die in prison'". The Billings Gazette. August 10, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Arizona Fugitives Charged with Causing the Deaths of Oklahoma Couple" (Press release). Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albuquerque. August 23, 2010. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  13. ^ "Province Waives Extradition From Wyoming". KOCO. August 11, 2010. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. 
  14. ^ Korte, Tim (October 26, 2010). "Initial hearing for McCluskey, Province and Welch on capital murder and carjacking charges scheduled for Nov. 17 in Albuquerque". The Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  15. ^ Seckler, Jim (December 19, 2010). "Judge declines motion to move Province trial". Mohave Daily News. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Claudia Washburn, Mother of Prison Escapee John McCluskey, Gets Prison Time for Aiding Son's Escape". Phoenix New Times. January 7, 2010. Retrieved 8 January 2011. 
  17. ^ "Mother Of Prison Escapee Enters Guilty Plea". KPHO. November 25, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Prison escapee’s ex-wife enters guilty plea to felony charge". Payson Roundup. December 3, 2010. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  19. ^ Sandlin, Scott (21 February 2013). "No Mediation in Death Penalty Case". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Sandlin, Scott (23 July 2013). "Jury Selection begins in trial". Albuquerque Journal. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "Inmate convicted of killing retired couple while on the lam", U.S.A. Today, 7 October 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  22. ^ 'McCluskey gets life in prison for killing couple', Albuquerque Journal, 12 December 2013, Scott Sandlin. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  23. ^ Victim's Sister Forgives Killers", Albuquerque Journal, Scott Sandlin, June 3, 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  24. ^ "McCluskey to be sentenced June 3", Albuquerque Journal, Scott Sandlin, May 2, 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  25. ^ "40 Years for Woman's Role in Murders", Albuquerque Journal, Scott Sandlin. June 2, 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
  26. ^ a b Smith, Craig (August 20, 2010). "State rips private prison, begins making changes". The Arizona Republic. 
  27. ^ Carlisle, Nate (September 21, 2010). "Utah business under fire for Arizona prison break". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  28. ^ Taylor, Erin (November 5, 2010). "Mohave County sends first bill to prison for costs of escape". Kingman Daily Miner. Retrieved December 29, 2010. 
  29. ^ McConnell, Dugald (August 10, 2010). "Prison escape becomes campaign issue". CNN. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 

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