Two Castor area men have been found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and the Crown Prosecutor is seeking three consecutive life sentences of 25 years each, which means no eligibility for parole for 75 years.
Justice Eric Macklin found Jason Gordon Klaus, 41, and his co-accused Joshua Gregory Frank, 32, guilty in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Jan. 10 for the deaths of Gordon Klaus, 61, Sandra Klaus, 62, and and their daughter Monica Klaus, 40. They were shot to death in their Castor area farmhouse Dec. 8, 2013.
“I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of Jason Klaus and the guilt of Joshua Frank on all of the respective charges against them of first degree murder,” said Justice Macklin to a packed court room. “Together they planned and carried out the three murders. Each one played a crucial role in executing the plan.”
Justice Macklin said “based on the evidence, I find that the Crown has established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Frank intentionally shot to death Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus on Dec. 8, 2013 and set the house on fire to conceal the crime. He did this according to his planning and deliberation with Mr. Klaus. Mr. Frank knew exactly what Mr. Klaus expected of him and he carried out the murders in accordance with their plan.”
Klaus and Frank were arrested Aug. 15, 2014. A six-week trial ran from October until Nov. 29, 2017.
Judge rejects Klaus and Frank testimony
Justice Macklin rejected the trial testimony of both Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank and accepted the evidence from the RCMP undercover Mr. Big operation, which he had earlier ruled as admissible.
“Based on the evidence I find that the Crown has established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Frank intentionally shot to death Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus on Dec. 8, 2013, and set the house on fire to conceal the crime.”
Justice Macklin said Joshua Frank pulled the trigger and Jason Klaus hired him.
During the trial, Crown Prosecutor Douglas Taylor Crown argued that Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank shot the family and then set the house on fire. Taylor said that Jason Klaus planned the murder with his friend Joshua Frank.
The Crown’s theory of the murder is based on what the two co-accused told undercover officers during the RCMP undercover 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.
Justice Macklin said Jason Klaus had confrontations with his father and considered him to be domineering and demanding. He said Jason Klaus had forged his father’s signature on cheques and was afraid he was going to be found out. Justice Macklin said the true version of events was the one that Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank confessed to in the Mr. Big sting.
He said Joshua Frank’s motive was money. Klaus had agreed to pay Frank $10,000 to $20,000 and Frank thought he was going to get as much as $50,000.
Pair almost got away with murder
Justice Macklin said “But for the shooting of the family dog, Keela, the deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus may never have been investigated as a homicide.”
Family members of the victims were quiet as the verdict was handed down but outside of the courtroom many hugged.
Klaus and Frank are automatically sentenced to life in prison for the three murders with no eligibility for parole for 25 years. The crown wants the three life sentences to be consecutive.
Six victim impact statements were read in court Jan. 10.
Justice Macklin wanted to sentence the two the same day he handed down the verdict but both defence Allan Fay and Toniii Rolston for Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank respectively, asked the court to give them time to prepare sentencing arguments. Sentencing is set for Jan. 22 in Red Deer Court of Queens Bench.
(See related story “Klaus family recount the horror, pain of triple homicides”)