An Alberta judge is expected to decide today whether two men who murdered three family members and burned their bodies should spend at least 75 years in prison.
Jason Klaus, 42, and Joshua Frank, 32, were found guilty last month on three charges of first-degree murder.
The bodies of Klaus’s father and sister were found in their burned-out farmhouse near Castor, Alta., in December 2013 — his mother’s body was never found but police believe she also died in the house.
Prosecutor Doug Taylor argued the two men deserve the maximum of 75 years without hope of parole for what he called a “contract killing of sorts.”
Klaus’s lawyer, Allan Fay, is asking for 25 years before parole eligibility because he argued the crime lacks the “gruesomeness” and “stark horror” of other cases involving consecutive parole ineligibilities.
Life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years is automatic for first-degree murder, but there are provisions in the Criminal Code to have sentences served one after the other for multiple murders.
During sentencing arguments, Justice Eric Macklin questioned whether to impose what he called a “symbolic sentence” with consecutive parole ineligibilities and wondered why power should be taken away from the parole board.
Klaus made a rambling statement to the court at the sentencing hearing.
‘I made a mistake that night.’ – Jason Klaus
“I did not kill my family and the little involvement that I did have I will regret for the rest of my life,” he said.
“I cannot express my sorrow about what has happened to my family, to your family … I won’t ever be able to say how sorry. I made a mistake that night. I loved my family.”
During the trial, court heard that Klaus was having problems with his father and offered Frank money to kill the family. Klaus had a cocaine and gambling addiction and forged cheques on his parents account, promising to pay them back.
Frank told police after his arrest that he killed the family because he was scared that Klaus would shoot him if he didn’t.
Consecutive periods of parole ineligibility have been imposed in Alberta in three other triple-murder cases.
Derek Saretzky was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years in the first-degree murders of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father Terry Blanchette and senior Hanne Meketech in 2015.
Douglas Garland was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 75 years for killing Alvin and Kathy Liknes of Calgary and their five-year-old grandson, Nathan O’Brien, in 2014.
Armoured-car guard Travis Baumgartner was sentenced to life with no chance at parole for 40 years for killing three of his colleagues during a robbery in a mall at the University of Alberta in June 2012.