The Castor-area triple homicide trial in Red Deer came to a close on Nov. 29 after the Crown and the councils for Joshua Frank and Jason Klaus made their closing arguments to Justice Eric Macklin in Red Deer.
The prosecution’s theory was that Klaus planned the murders of his family and then got Frank to pull the trigger for money the night of Dec. 8, 2013.
Crown Prosecutor Douglas Taylor said that Klaus’ motive was that he wanted to run the Klaus farm without the influence of his family whom he disdained. Klaus had forged cheques in his family’s name and, according to the prosecution, Klaus felt he was in danger of being marginalized financially by his parents.
Frank’s motive, according to Taylor, was that of “greed”, and that Frank committed the murders for “easy money”.
Klaus’ lawyer Allan Fay submitted that Klaus had no idea that Frank would murder his family and that the two were at the farm the morning of Dec. 8th to steal the white GMC truck that was owned by Klaus’ father. Klaus’ idea, according to Fay, was to commit insurance fraud, not triple homicide.
According to Fay, the plan changed when Frank decided to go into the farm house and steal the family’s prized deer head, which was worth anywhere up to $250,000. (Many estimates were given out over the course of the trial)
Fay said the plan went south when Frank awoke the family and then murdered Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus and then burned the house down.
Fay added that Klaus’ confessions to undercover officers during the Mr. Big sting operation were false and were made in order to live the lavish lifestyle of the criminal organization.
The confession he made after being arrested, according to Fay, was made because Klaus was under duress and under the impression that he had to tell the officers what they wanted to hear. Officers never did in fact say these exact words to Klaus.
Tonii Roulston, defence attorney for Joshua Frank, admitted that both her client and Klaus were repeatedly telling lies throughout the investigation. She made the distinction that her client eventually told the truth when he said Klaus committed the murders.
She also said that Klaus being upset in court over the shooting of the family dog Keela is not evidence that Klaus could not have committed the murders.
She also suggested that if the court accepts Klaus being upset as evidence he didn’t kill his family, then the fact Frank was upset during his admission of being sexually assaulted by Klaus must also be considered as evidence.
Roulston also challenged the Crown’s theory that Frank’s confession during the Mr. Big sting is the way the murders happened. Roulston said accepting this theory would mean the court is choosing to believe Frank, who has been proven unreliable in court, was only telling the truth at this time.
In closing, Roulston said the Crown has not proven beyond reasonable doubt that Frank committed the murders.
Klaus is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson in relation to the deaths of his father Gordon Klaus, 61, his mother Sandra Klaus, 62 and his sister Monica Klaus, 40.
Co-accused Frank has also been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths.
The remains of Gordon and Monica Klaus were found in what was left of a burnt-out house in Castor on Dec. 8th, 2013. The body of Sandra Klaus hasn’t been found because police believe her remains were consumed by the fire.
Justice Macklin said he will announce his decision on Jan. 10, 2018 in Red Deer.