The six-week trial for Jason Gordon Klaus and Joshua Gregory Frank – both charged with three counts of first degree murder and arson – wrapped up Nov. 29 in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
Klaus and Frank were arrested Aug. 15, 2014, for the Dec. 8, 2013, murders of Gordon Klaus, 61, Sandra Klaus, 62, and Monica Klaus, 40.
“The Crown respectfully submits it has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank are both guilty of the planned and deliberate murders of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus,” Crown Prosecutor Douglas Taylor told the court in his closing arguments.
Taylor said that Jason Klaus planned the murder with his friend Joshua Frank and agreed to pay Frank money in exchange for Frank going into the Klaus home and shooting the family and then burning down the house.
The Crown’s theory of the murder is based on what the two co-accused told undercover officers during the Mr. Big Sting in 2014.
During the sting Klaus confessed he hired Frank to kill his family because he had forged his dad’s signature on cheques. Klaus told the undercover officers he drove Frank to the farmhouse in the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 2013, dropped him off and waited down the road for Frank to commit the murders and burn down the house.
The two drove Gordon Klaus’s white GMC truck about 20 km to the Battle River where they ditched the vehicle and threw the keys into the ditch. Frank tossed the 9-mm handgun into the Battle River the next day.
Joshua Frank, when meeting with Mr. Big, a fake crime boss who was really an undercover police officer, corroborated this version of events.
After Jason Klaus was arrested he gave this same account a second time.
During the Mr. Big sting, Klaus led undercover officers to the spot where the keys to the truck were tossed in the ditch and Frank led them to the location where the revolver was thrown in the Battle River.
A forensic firearm’s expert testified that the bullet that killed the Klaus’s family dog was fired from this revolver.
The Crown said Jason Klaus’s motive was the strained relationship with his father and sister.
“He was worried his forgery of cheques and theft of money from his parents would lead to him being marginalized and left on his own. With them gone he could do what he wanted and the family farm would be his.”
He said Frank’s motive was “greed for money pure and simple,” adding that Frank was an “unemployed destitute drug addict” who saw an opportunity for easy money.
Both Frank and Klaus stared expressionless straight ahead as the Crown presented how the crime was committed and their motives.
Crown Prosecutor Taylor said Jason Klaus admitted to police that prior to leaving the family farmhouse the night before the murders, he argued with his family over how they were treating his mother.
A week before the murders Jason Klaus had called his aunt in Red Deer and asked her if he could visit her to get away from his family. She said no.
Taylor said the jerry can of AV fuel being left by the house is consistent with Joshua Frank having committed the murders. He said after Frank came out of the house he was interrupted by the family dog, shot her and dropped the jerry can.
Taylor said the sound of a gun shot outside in the cold weather is magnified and Frank realized this, causing Frank to “abort his plan to return the jerry can and flee the scene.”
Sitting in the prisoner box and listening to this, Frank made no expression.
Taylor said the family dog wouldn’t have attacked Jason Klaus.
“It’s more likely that the dog attacked a stranger than someone who lived with her for years.”
He added that Frank told undercover officers that “hindsight being 20-20 he should have thrown the dog into the fire.
“I suggest it’s interesting there’s no mention of the jerry can like he almost forgot where the can was.”
Taylor said he found it remarkable both accused testified they were innocent and yet they both told versions that placed them at the scene of the crime.
“This is significant as both are responsible for the murders. There’s no question these two men are responsible for the deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica. It was a planned and deliberate murder.”
Justice Eric Macklin told the packed courtroom that he was reserving his verdict until Jan. 10, 2018.
“It’s been a long six weeks,” he said thanking the gallery for being respectful throughout the trial and those who attended every day.
See related stories ‘Family problems doesn’t prove murder says Klaus’s lawyer’ and ‘Klaus framed Frank claims Frank’s lawyer’