Penalty phase of Ariz. inmate murder case begins

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John McCluskey By Catherine Holland John McCluskey By Catherine Holland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- 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 said McCluskey's brain abnormalities, abuse by his father and his history of substance abuse led to an inability to control his impulses and reason like a normal person.