Joshua Frank took the stand Nov. 24 and 25 professed he was innocent and claimed that Jason Klaus killed his family.
Klaus and Frank are on trial in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench each charged with arson and three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Gordon Klaus, Sandra Klaus and Monica Klaus on Dec. 8, 2013.
Frank claimed that he only told undercover officers, who he believed were organized crime members, that he killed Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus as a favour for Jason Klaus.
Frank said in June 2014 he met Jason Klaus at the Huber Dam and Klaus told him he had a new job working for organized criminals and could get on with them full time but needed Frank to back up his story that he hired Frank to kill his family.
Frank said that he’s laughing in the July 2014 undercover police video, which shows Frank confessing to the crime, because “I’m trying to sell this to (undercover cop) and playing a tough guy…That’s what Jason wanted, me to back his story up. I didn’t kill these people so there wasn’t emotion there.”
Frank testified that his former friend, Amanda, gave him a Christmas present – after the murders – consisting of chocolate and a blue butane lighter/vaporizer for smoking marijuana. This is the lighter that he then gave to undercover RCMP officers July 2014 telling them it is what he used to light the Klaus family farmhouse on fire after the murders.
During the trial Saturday, Frank’s lawyer Andrea Urqhart, had Frank remove a blue lighter from an evidence bag and asked him if that is the lighter he gave to Mr. Big, an alleged crime boss who was actually an undercover RCMP officer.
“Ya that’s the lighter,” said Frank. “The last time I seen it was in July when I gave it to Mr. Big.”
Frank said the night of Dec. 7, 2013, Jason Klaus killed his family. He said while drinking at the Cosmopolitan Hotel Jason Klaus asked him if he remembered their October conversation when Klaus was upset with his father and “ranting” about him.
“He said how much more work he’s doing around the farm because his dad is sick. He’s not getting paid anything for all his extra work,” testified Frank.
Frank said he thought Klaus was just venting, which he did often.
“I just let him blow off some steam.”
This is when, according to Frank, Klaus said it would be easier if his family was gone and then he could run the farm the way he wanted.
Frank said Klaus told him that American hunters were interested in his prize white-tail deer head and that would be a good cover story for someone going into the family’s farmhouse and killing them.
Frank said he didn’t think Klaus was serious.
“I said ‘oh ya.’ He talked like that before. He gets angry easy and the person he’s (mad at) is going to get it, dead. That’s a common theme… In my opinion he’s just blowing off steam.”
Frank, however, admitted that Klaus said that was a good night to kill his family because it was snowing and everyone was home at the family farmhouse.
Frank told the packed courtroom that the night of Dec. 7 he thought they were going to get more cocaine but Jason Klaus drove to his family’s farmyard and told Frank, “If you want to make it through this night you will shut the f*** up and do what I tell you.”
Jason Klaus sat in the prisoner’s box listening with a wide smirk on his face.
Frank said he stayed in the vehicle at the farmhouse and Jason Klaus went in. Frank said he heard some noises, “something loud.”
“A few minutes later Jason came back into the lane way. I saw his arm go out and saw a muzzle flash and he shoots the dog.”
Frank said Jason Klaus told him to get out of the vehicle and told him to follow him in the Klaus pick up truck. Frank said he unplugged the truck, started it and waited for Klaus.
“I see him come back from the Quonset. He had a jerry can with him. He walked into the house. He came out a couple minutes later, dropped the jerry can and walked to his Suburban. I followed him out of the yard.”
Frank testified he thought “What just happened?”
He said he followed Klaus to Highway 36 north to the Battle River near Alliance for about 15 to 20 minutes where the truck was ditched and keys tossed.
“I get into the Suburban and he backs out and heads to Castor. I try to ask him what’s going on.”
Frank said Klaus told him “shut the f*** up I just lost my entire family. I don’t need this bullshit.”
Frank said during the drive back to Castor Klaus threatened him saying if he told anyone there was a bullet coming his way.
Frank said when he was fishing at the Huber Dam in June, 2014, Klaus contacted him asking to meet. They met at the dam and Frank said this is when Klaus gave him details of the crime.
He said Klaus told him he needed Frank to tell his new bosses that he hired Frank to kill his family and he had nothing to worry about because he already passed the polygraph.
“He was giving me a list of stuff… that had occurred. He wanted me to get to know his list so I can back his story up… I was thinking ‘I don’t know what to do’ so I just said I would do it.”
Before Klaus left, Frank said Klaus went to his vehicle and “pulled out a little bullet and said if a chance comes up give it to them (crime bosses) and say this is one of the bullets from the pistol he supposedly gave to me.”
Frank said he didn’t tell police the truth because he “had told so many different stories, so many different lies it just snowballed into one giant mess.”
Under cross examination by Allan Fay, Jason Klaus’s defense lawyer, Frank admitted that he often lies.
“I’ve lied to cover stuff up for a good portion of my life.”
The trial is expected to wrap up this week.