“Justice has been served,” Marilyn Thomson, in red coat, (sister to murdered Gordon Klaus) told the media outside the Red Deer Courthouse Feb. 14. Thomson exits the courthouse with her family members. (ECA Review/L.Joy)
Convicted triple-killers Jason Gordon Klaus and Joshua Gregory Frank were given three life sentences to be served concurrently, which means they can apply for parole after 25 years.
Justice Eric Macklin handed down the sentence in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Feb. 14. The crown asked that the three life sentences be served consecutively, which would have meant Klaus and Frank wouldn’t be able to apply for parole for 75 years but Justice Macklin said that would be unduly long and harsh.
“A period of parole ineligibility of 50 or 75 years is neither justifiable nor appropriate for either offender in this case,” said Justice Macklin. To that comment, there was an audible groan from many in the packed courtroom.
“Given their ages at the time of the offences (38 and 28), parole ineligibility of 50 or 75 years would virtually guarantee that these offenders would spend the remainder of their productive lives in prison,” said Justice Macklin.
Justice Macklin said there was evidence, “both Klaus and Frank were involved in some forms of anti-social behavior prior to the commission of the murders, none of that behavior would be considered a reliable indicator that either one of these individuals could or would be involved in a violent crime, much less three first degree murders… Simply put, there is no evidence in this case upon which this court can conclude that Mr. Klaus and Mr. Frank will pose a danger to the community in 25 years so as to necessitate continued separation from society.
“There was no evidence put forward that would support a finding that either Mr. Klaus or Mr. Frank is incapable of rehabilitation and therefore will be dangerous in 25 years.”
Justice Macklin said vengeance isn’t a sentencing principle in Canada. He pointed out that although Klaus and Frank would be eligible to apply for parole, it’s rare for someone convicted of a multiple murder to ever be granted parole. He added, however, that a sentence that extinguishes any hope of release for an offender is a “crushing sentence.”
Both Klaus and Frank can apply for parole in 2039. Their 25-year sentence started the day they were arrested in August 2014.
After a six-week trial held October to November 2017, Klaus and Frank were found guilty Jan. 22, 2018, of murdering Gordon Klaus, 61, Sandra Klaus, 62, and their daughter Monica Klaus, 41, in their farm home east of Castor in Paintearth County on Dec. 8, 2013.
“These were defenceless victims who were killed through the use of a firearm in an isolated rural setting,” said Justice Macklin during the sentencing. “Their bodies were desecrated in order to cover up the crimes.”
When Frank was brought into the prisoner’s box before the sentencing started Feb. 14, Frank looked relaxed and smiled at his family members sitting in the gallery. When Klaus came into the prisoner’s box, his eyes were red and he blinked fast fighting back tears.
Justice Macklin said Klaus and Frank formulated a plan for Frank to kill the three members of the Klaus family for which he would be paid a sum of money by Klaus. To that, Klaus shook his head.
“Mr. Frank then intentionally shot to death the three victims following which he set the house on fire to conceal the crime.”
During a sentencing hearing Jan. 22, 2017. the court heard seven victim impact statements in this case.
“The depth of grief, and the horror each felt at the knowledge of how the victims died, was palpable,” said Justice Macklin on Feb. 14. “It is acknowledged that life will never be the same for anyone touched by these events.”
Justice Macklin said both of the accused could have backed out of the murder-for-hire plan.
“Both offenders were integrally involved in the commission of the offences and each one had ample opportunity to reflect and desist.”
The only mitigating factor in relation to these offenders is that neither offender has a prior criminal record, said Justice Macklin.
Aggravating factors include the victims being murdered with the use of firearms inside their home in an isolated rural setting.
“Their bodies were desecrated in order to cover up the crimes. Family pets were also killed. It was a contract killing. Both offenders hoped to profit financially. They planned the crimes together and each one had an opportunity to desist. The murders have resulted in great loss to the community.”
Outside of the courthouse, Marilyn Thomson, the sister of victim Gordon Klaus, thanked Calgary RCMP Major Crimes, the Red Deer prosecutor’s office, the judge and the Castor fire department. Thomson also commended volunteer police operative Brady Flett for “undeniably risking his life for Monica.”
“Although this does not bring Monica and and Sandi and Gordon back, we are very grateful that justice has been served and that we now have the opportunity to move forward with our lives.”
She declined, however, to comment on Justice Macklin’s decision.
Klaus’s lawyer, Allan Fay, said the sentence “recognized the egregious nature of the acts he found my client guilty of but yet recognized that everyone is capable of redemption, rehabilitation and left that possibility open.”
Frank’s lawyer Tonii Roulston called the sentence a “fair decision.” She said she hasn’t made any decisions yet on whether they will appeal and are still reviewing the trial transcripts.