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LONDON (AP) -- A Texas man accused of a gruesome 1974 double murder died Monday in London, where he was awaiting possible extradition to the United States, the Prison Service said.
Robert Elmer Kleasen, 70, succumbed to suspected heart failure at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in southeast London, the service said. He was transferred to the hospital from Belmarsh Prison on Thursday.
Kleasen was indicted by a Texas grand jury in August 2001 for the killings of Mark Fischer and Gary Darley. Last August, a judge approved prosecutors' request to extradite him to the United States, leaving a final decision to Home Secretary David Blunkett.
Kleasen was convicted of Fischer's murder and sentenced to death in 1975, but two years later a state appeals court overturned the conviction because of a faulty search warrant.
Mormon Missionaries Fischer, 19, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Darley, 20, of Simi Valley, Calif., disappeared in Austin on Oct. 28, 1974. Their bodies were never found.
They were to dine with Kleasen in his trailer behind a taxidermy shop where he worked. Police believe Darley and Fischer kept that date and were shot to death, and that their bodies were cut into small pieces with a band saw in the shop.
The bodies were never found, but Fischer's watch and bullet-punctured name tag were discovered in Kleasen's former residence west of Austin.
Kleasen moved to Britain in 1990 and married Marie Longley, a policeman's widow who had been his pen pal while he was on death row in Texas. She later alerted police to a cache of guns he kept in their home and he was convicted of weapons violations in June 2000.
He was indicted in the 1974 case in 2001, based on new DNA test results that detected the blood of one of the victims on Kleasen's pants, prosecutors said.
Kleasen accused prosecutors of lying and said he feared he could be executed if returned to Texas. Prosecutors there agreed not to seek the death penalty in order to win the cooperation of Britain, which does not extradite suspects who could face capital punishment.
District Judge Timothy Workman said at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court in August that he was satisfied prosecutors had met the requirements for extradition.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)