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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An inmate who broke out of an Arizona prison with two others and a woman who helped them escape pleaded guilty on Friday in the deaths of an Oklahoma husband and wife in a case that inspired a manhunt in Montana, Wyoming and other states.

Tracy Province and Casslyn Welch, who has acknowledged her role in the prison break, faced murder charges and could have faced the death penalty in the 2010 slayings of Gary and Linda Haas, who were carjacked and killed in New Mexico while the escapees were on the run.

Province was captured in Wyoming on Aug. 9, 2010.

Welch and McCluskey were arrested more than a week later at an eastern Arizona campsite after an alert U.S. Forest Service employee spotted their beat-up Nissan backed suspiciously into the trees.

 

Province and Welch agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges of car carjacking resulting in death, conspiracy, firearms possession and use and other charges.

As part of Province's deal, he agreed to serve at least five consecutive life terms, authorities said. Welch faces up to life in prison on at least two of the counts, according to prosecutors.

Three relatives of the victims were in court in Albuquerque for the hearing, where prosecutors detailed what happened on or about Aug. 2.

Province, Welch, and another escaped inmate -- Welch's cousin and fiance, John McCluskey -- forced themselves into the cab of the Haas' pickup at a welcome center just inside the state line, prosecutors said. The couple was then forced to drive west before they were shot and killed.

McCluskey remains jailed and is scheduled for trial in March 2013.

Welch pleaded guilty last year in Arizona to state charges of helping McCluskey, Province and Daniel Renwick flee a medium-security prison near Kingman.

Welch acknowledged throwing cutting tools onto the prison grounds. The three inmates used the tools to break through a perimeter fence and flee into the desert. Welch had also supplied the men with guns and money, and Renwick with a get-away vehicle.

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Renwick was captured a day later after a shootout in western Colorado.

Province, McCluskey and Welch found themselves without transportation. Authorities say they kidnapped two truck drivers at gunpoint and forcing the drivers to take them to Flagstaff.

Prosecutors say the three later targeted the Haases at a rest stop in New Mexico for the couple's camping trailer. The Haases were on their way to Colorado to meet friends for an annual camping trip.

 

 

 

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