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Updated Oct 21, 2013 - 9:39 am

Penalty phase of Arizona inmate murder case begins

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jurors in Albuquerque heard opening statements as the
penalty phase began Monday in the capital murder trial of John McCluskey.

The Arizona prison inmate faces a possible death sentence for the killings in
New Mexico of a retired Oklahoma couple following a 2010 Arizona prison break.

The same federal court jurors who convicted McCluskey earlier this month after
a four-month trial returned to decide whether he should be executed or sentenced
life in prison.

A prosecutor told the jurors that McCluskey’s violent history and his
convictions in the current case make him eligible for the death penalty.

A defense lawyer will argue that McCluskey has brain abnormalities, and that abuse by his
father and his substance abuse led to an inability to control his impulses and
reason like a normal person.

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