The fate of Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank is now in the hands of Justice Eric Macklin.
Closing arguments were delivered Wednesday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench, bringing a six week trial to an end.
Klaus and Frank are each charged with three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus, Jason’s parents and sister. Police believe they were shot in the head before the family farmhouse near Castor was set on fire in the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 2013. The family’s dog was also shot to death.
Wednesday’s proceedings began with Crown Prosecutor Douglas Taylor laying out the case against both of the accused.
“The Crown respectfully submits that Klaus and Frank are both guilty of the plan and deliberate murders of Gordon, Sandra and Monica and should be found guilty of all three counts of first degree murder.”
Video from July 19, 2014 (WARNING: Contains foul language)
Taylor laid out the Crown’s theory that Klaus planned the murders with Frank, promising him money in exchange for going into the farmhouse, killing his family, and then setting the house on fire to destroy the evidence. He suggested Klaus helped Frank by supplying the murder weapon, a 9 mm handgun, and giving him a ride to the farm.
Klaus’s emotional state at the time of the deaths, Taylor suggested, supports the belief that he wanted his family dead.
“Klaus’s motive was his disdain for his family over the way he was being treated by his parents and sister, and that the discovery of forged cheques would leave him marginalized. With them gone, he could do what he wanted and the family farm would be his.”
Moving on, Taylor said Frank was the one who shot and killed Gordon, Sandra and Monica.
“Frank’s motive was greed for money, pure and simple,” he offered, calling Frank a destitute drug addict who saw an opportunity for money and took it.
Though they both told the same story to undercover police in July 2014, Klaus and Frank gave vastly different accounts during their trial testimonies.
Klaus testified he and Frank planned to steal a truck from the farm when Frank strayed from the plan by going into the farmhouse to steal a trophy deer head, shooting the three victims after he became startled, then burning the house down.
Klaus said he didn’t tell anyone because Frank threatened to kill him if he did.
Meantime, Frank testified Klaus planned and carried out the murders on his own and ordered him to say he did it. Frank said he went along with it because he was afraid of Klaus, who he said sexually abused him dating back to when he was 14.
Taylor said these accounts were nothing more than, “fanciful concoctions designed to steer this honourable court away from the truth, deny common sense and the physical evidence.”
The only time they told the truth, according to Taylor, was when they were talking to an undercover police officer (Mr. Big) who was ready to have someone take the fall for them. He noted that Klaus and Frank looked, “happy and realized that they had finally got away with murder. And how ironic it is that that’s the reason we ended up here.”
Klaus’s lawyer Allan Fay took aim at Frank’s testimony during his closing remarks, while maintaining Klaus was telling the truth when he testified that he had nothing to do with the murders.
Fay said the two conspired to commit insurance fraud by stealing the truck from the farm, not to have Jason’s family killed.
“His testimony is a tapestry of lies woven by a man who is a constant liar,” Fay said about Frank. “It was he who killed the Klaus family, he who burned the house down.”
Fay said there was no evidence to show Klaus’s relationship with his family deteriorated to the point where he’d consider murder.
Tonii Roulston, Frank’s defence lawyer, said that while Klaus was often lying he did share details of the murders that only the killer himself would know.
Macklin asked Roulston why she thought Klaus’s story was constantly changing. She said it was because he was constantly manipulating people.
“He fancies himself as a mastermind. But he’s just not a very smart one.”
Both Fay and Roulston acknowledged their clients’ lying tendencies. They also said there was enough present to raise reasonable doubt over their guilt.
Macklin will deliver his decision on Jan. 10.
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