A triple-murder trial has been delayed for a central Alberta man accused along with a friend of setting his family’s home on fire and killing his parents and sister.
The trial for Jason Klaus on arson and first-degree murder charges was to begin in Red Deer on Tuesday, but the start date was put over to Oct. 23.
The Klaus home near the small community of Castor was found burned to the ground in December 2013.
The remains of Gordon Klaus and his daughter, Monica, were identified in the remains.
The body of Gordon’s wife, Sandra Klaus, was never found but it’s believed she was also in the home.
Co-accused Joshua Frank, who is 33, faces the same charges and is being tried along with Klaus, who is 42.
Frank is also accused of cruelty to an animal in the death of the Klaus family’s dog.
Both men have been in custody since they were arrested in August 2014. They sat next to each other in the prisoner’s box Tuesday before a packed courtroom.
Instead of opening arguments, proceedings began with defence lawyers asking for an adjournment. They argued that the Crown missed its deadline to present evidence from an undercover sting.
Frank’s defence team said the Crown was running a “willy-nilly” case and was “always on the fence” on whether to use evidence from the sting to build a case against him.
Use of audio, video evidence in question
Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor, who was not assigned to the case until Aug. 29 after a previous prosecutor had resigned, said he worked to rectify the problem as soon as he was made aware of it.
Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin ruled disclosure was provided on a timely basis, but did note the Crown did not file its intent to lead with undercover evidence by an agreed-upon deadline.
Defence lawyers argued they would still need to review “hundreds of hours” of material to properly prepare, so Macklin delayed the trial’s start date by two weeks.
The judge has yet to rule whether the evidence in question — which amounts to almost three hours of audio and audio-video recordings — is admissible.