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February 22, 2013

Escaped inmate is being treated for medical condition

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A man who escaped from an Arizona prison and is facing federal murder charges in New Mexico has been seriously ill and unable to meaningfully help prepare his defense, his attorneys told a judge in their successful effort to delay the trial.

John McCluskey is being treated for an undisclosed medical condition that has led to weight loss and left him physically and mentally weak, his attorneys said.

McCluskey had been set to go to trial next month on carjacking and murder charges in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple, but U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera agreed to a postponement until late July.

Court documents allude to the medical condition but don’t identify it.

Prosecutors have said they’re concerned that McCluskey could be exaggerating the effects of the disease to avoid trial, but one of the defendant’s doctors said tests could determine the severity of it.

McCluskey has made no secret of his desire to steer clear of a trial and the death penalty. He recently agreed to plea negotiations, but federal prosecutors said they’re intent on moving toward trial.

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