Dog, most important piece of evidence

by Lisa Joy

The trial for Jason Gordon Klaus and Joshua Gregory Frank, who were charged with triple homicide, resumed Oct. 23 in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench after a two-week delay.

RCMP Calgary Major Crimes unit arrested Jason Klaus, then 38, at his late sister Monica Klaus’ home in Stettler, Ab. on Aug. 15, 2014.

Police arrested Joshua Gregory Frank, then 29, in Castor, Ab. at his brother’s home.

Klaus and Frank are charged with three counts of first degree murder and arson in connection with the deaths of Jason Klaus’ sister, Monica Klaus (40), and his parents, Sandra Klaus (62) and Gordon Klaus (61).

The arrests came after RCMP requested assistance from a B.C. dive team from RCMP’s E Division, which retrieved a “key” piece of evidence from the Battle River near Big Knife Provincial Park on July 27, 2014.

The trial, which was to run Oct. 10 to 24, was delayed after the defence lawyers claimed that the Crown didn’t give them enough time to prepare for how they would use the “Mr. Big sting evidence” (evidence gathered when police pretend to be criminals to gain another criminal’s trust and then confessions).

The defence lawyers argued they found out in late September that the Mr. Big operation was going to be the key part of the prosecution’s case and would “drastically” change how they would defend their clients.

Justice Eric Macklin allowed the defence two weeks to review the audio and audio-video recordings by RCMP, which amounted to about 100 hours.

Previously, the trial was to be heard before judge and jury but last month the defence lawyers asked for a judge-alone trial.

During the trial on Oct. 27, police told the Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Macklin that they believe Jason Klaus shot his sister, mother and father in the head on Dec. 8, 2013 before setting fire to the family’s Castor-area farmhouse to destroy evidence.

Police video recordings played during the trial show Calgary Major Crimes RCMP officer, Sgt. Rob Kropp telling Klaus that the dog’s body outside the house was the first indication that it was a murder scene.

“The dog was initially the most important piece of information,” Sgt. Kropp told Klaus. “If the dog hadn’t been found in the condition it was found, we may not have investigated this as a homicide.

“If there was a mistake being made, I’d say, Jason, the dog was it.”

According to the medical examiner, the bullet found in the house was most likely shot from a Ruger semi-automatic.

Calgary Major Crimes said they were listening to all of Jason Klaus’ telephone conversations from early on in their investigation.

In addition, they were listening in on Klaus’ vehicle, residence and Monica’s residence.

Another officer, Staff Sgt. Mike McCauley, in an attempt to get Jason Klaus to talk, told him that he didn’t think he was a cold-blooded killer, a monster or lunatic and told him he was a completely sane, average guy.

Jason Klaus was asked several times to take a lie detector test but refused. He was also asked to voluntarily give a DNA test but refused that as well.

According to Calgary Major Crimes, blood DNA matching Jason Klaus was found in the snow at the scene.

The video played in court shows that Klaus told RCMP that his father was strict, calling him a “tough father” but that he respected him for that.

He said that he worked seven days a week from sun up to sun down on the family farm.

He said that his father was adamant that he leave by 7:30 a.m. to drive the few minutes from his trailer to the farm.

The Calgary Medical Examiner’s Office identified the remains of Gordon and his daughter, Monica from the rubble of the Dec. 8 house fire.

The remains of Gordon’s wife, Sandra, were never found but police say their investigation “indicates that she was in the house at the time of the fire.”

The basement of the home was full of coal and the fire was intense, which burned for days before RCMP could investigate the scene.

The Castor Fire Department, with assistance from Stettler, were called to the Klaus farmyard on Sun., Dec. 8 about 7 a.m..

The fire is believed to have been set between 2 and 6 a.m. Police labelled the deaths a homicide in February, 2014.

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