The Norman Transcript

August 23, 2013

Judge clears way for evidence

By Susan Montoya Bryan
The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Fingerprint evidence and related testimony will be allowed in the capital murder trial of an Arizona fugitive accused of carjacking and killing a retired Oklahoma couple, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Attorneys for John McCluskey had sought to have the key evidence thrown out, arguing that any testimony based on fingerprint comparisons done by a complicated automated system would be unreliable.

The motion claimed the mathematical system used to match the prints to McCluskey has an error rate of 50 percent, a standard too low to guarantee his right to a fair trial.

The legal wrangling related to the testimony of fingerprint expert Bonnie Knoll, who was called to the witness stand Thursday.

Prosecutors said Gary and Linda Haas, of Tecumseh, were targeted by McCluskey, fellow escaped inmate Tracy Province and accomplice Casslyn Welch at a rest stop near the Texas-New Mexico state line on Aug. 2, 2010. The trio allegedly wanted the couple’s truck and travel trailer.