Crown wants court to change parole period in triple murder of Alberta family

Click to play video: 'Alberta’s court of appeal hears 2 high-profile triple-murder cases'
Alberta’s court of appeal hears 2 high-profile triple-murder cases
WATCH: The Court of Appeal of Alberta heard two high-profile cases Tuesday, both involving convicted triple-murderers. Blake Lough reports. – Jun 16, 2020

A Crown prosecutor has told the Alberta Court of Appeal that a trial judge erred by not applying consecutive parole eligibilities for two men convicted in the slayings of three family members, but their lawyers say they need hope for the future.

Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank were each sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years after being convicted of three counts of first-degree murder.

The bodies of Klaus’s father and sister, Gordon and Monica Klaus, were found in their burned-out farmhouse near Castor, Alta., east of Red Deer, in 2013. His mother, Sandra Klaus, was never found, but police believe she also died in the home.

READ MORE: Alberta men who killed family near Castor won’t get parole chance for 25 years

Court heard that Jason Klaus was having problems with his father and offered Frank money to kill the family. Frank told police he did it because he was scared Klaus would shoot him if he didn’t follow through.

Story continues below advertisement

Klaus also had a cocaine and gambling addiction and forged cheques on his parents’ account.

Prosecutor Iwona Kuklicz argued in front of the Appeal Court on Tuesday that Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin should have given the killers life sentences with no parole eligibility for 75 years.

READ MORE: Details of RCMP undercover operation revealed in court at Alberta triple-murder trial

Kuklicz said the judge failed to address deterrence and aggravating and mitigating factors.

Macklin ruled that factors in the case were not particularly uncommon, compared with other murders, and did not warrant consecutive sentences. He also suggested that the two men would have a better chance of rehabilitation if they were not “bereft of hope.”

“It is difficult to see how the trial judge couldn’t have found this to have been unique in the case of hiring a hit man to eliminate an entire family for money, and then ultimately burning down a house to cover up any evidence,” Kuklicz said.

“These offences were well planned. It is the Crown’s position that the principles of interlinked offences were not taken into account when he imposed a concurrent parole ineligibility rather than consecutive parole ineligibilities.

“It does create a situation where crime does become cheaper by the dozen.”

Story continues below advertisement

The appeal judges reserved their decision.

Click to play video: 'Men who killed family near Castor won’t get parole chance for 25 years'
Men who killed family near Castor won’t get parole chance for 25 years

Defence lawyer Andrea Urquhart, representing Frank, argued that while deterrence and denunciation are important in sentencing, her client wouldn’t benefit from having three 25-year parole ineligibilities stacked on top of each other.

“The argument about giving someone hope or a chance when we’re talking about multiple first-degree murders is somewhat unique,” she said.

Michael Bates, who represents Klaus, told the Appeal Court that the case isn’t simply about consecutive sentences. It’s about discretion given to a trial judge.

“There’s absolutely nothing that says there has to be a subsequent mandatory additional sentence. I don’t see any possible way this court could interpret adding an additional 25 years of mandatory staying in jail, and having no opportunity to apply for parole, could be seen as anything but a greater punishment,” Bates said.

Story continues below advertisement

“There is a life sentence for murder. It is mandatory. It doesn’t matter how many murders you commit, you will not get a consecutive sentence of life number two. You’ve got a life sentence and that’s it. We are talking about adding parole ineligibility.”

Sponsored content