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Security steps taken in trial of Arizona inmate

Kingman, Ariz. — Security measures for the upcoming trial of an Arizona prison inmate were increased after a weapon was found in his cell and he assaulted a law enforcement official, authorities said.

John McCluskey, 46, was serving a 15-year sentence for attempted murder when he and two other inmates escaped, police say, from a private prison in Golden Valley, outside Kingman, in July.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn had ruled last week that corrections staff could not strap a stun belt to McCluskey during the four-day trial, which starts today. Conn reversed that order Monday after prosecutor Jace Zack displayed a 3-foot section of tightly rolled newspapers found in McCluskey’s cell.

Corrections officer Peter Wright testified that the newspaper roll could be used as a club or a stabbing device if outfitted with a pen or pencil.

Also, McCluskey is alleged to have assaulted Mohave County sheriff’s Detective Jason Elsbury minutes after Conn’s stun belt ruling. Jeff Brown, deputy director of the jail, said McCluskey threw an elbow to Elsbury’s head, breaking his glasses. Elsbury did not require medical attention.

McCluskey would not walk on his own power and had to be carried to the transport motorcade and into the jail, sheriff’s spokeswoman Trish Carter said.

In addition to escape charges, McCluskey faces kidnapping, assault and other charges involving the abduction of two truck drivers and their tractor-trailer to make his way to Flagstaff after the prison break.

McCluskey will face trial in New Mexico in the slayings of an Oklahoma couple, which happened two days after he escaped.

Two other defendants in the case have resolved their Arizona charges and await trial with McCluskey in New Mexico.

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