Two men convicted of a triple murder in Paintearth county may be getting out of jail much earlier than originally thought after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last week they and a number of other high-profile convicted murderers were not fairly sentenced.
Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank were both convicted of three counts of first degree murder Jan. 10, 2018 in Red Deer in connection with the deaths of Gordon, 61, and Sandra Klaus, 62, Jason’s parents, and his sister Monica, 40 and eventually given 50 years in jail before parole eligibility.
The victims were found at the burnt-out Klaus farm in December 2013. During the trial both murderers blamed the other for the Klaus’ deaths.
In a decision certain to cause consternation to victims’ families and victim rights groups The Supreme Court of Canada in a ruling earlier this year agreed consecutive sentences were not acceptable, ruling those convicted of multiple murders weren’t treated with human dignity by being forced to serve consecutive sentences and that by being denied the benefit of serving sentences concurrently the convicts were being treated in a degrading manner.
The decision was originally made in relation to the sentence of mass murderer Alexandre Bissonnette who, on Jan. 29, 2017 entered the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City with a semi-automatic pistol and shot 11 people, killing six of them. Bissonnette's lengthy sentence along with the section of the Criminal Code that allowed it were thrown out by the Quebec Court of Appeal and when prosecutors themselves appealed that decision to the Supreme Court the stage was set for a decision on several high-profile, lengthy sentences passed in Canada over the last decade, particularly in multiple murder cases.
While Klaus and Frank both claimed innocence in court it was revealed during trial that a “Mr. Big” sting collected evidence that both men were involved in the Klaus murders.
Prosecutors revealed Frank killed all three victims with a semi-automatic pistol on Dec. 8, 2013. After the murders Klaus spread aviation fuel throughout the farmhouse then set it alight. Gordon and Monica’s remains were found in the house but Sandra’s were believed to have been destroyed in the fire. Evidence from the Mr. Big sting suggested Klaus was angry with his family over money.
The trial judge stated Klaus appeared to be the crime’s planner while Frank carried out Klaus’ orders.
Supreme Court of Canada records show that an order was placed on June 16 that both Klaus and Frank’s 50-year sentences be reviewed in light of the Bissonnette judgement.
There has been speculation in the media that convicted murderers Derek Saretzky and Edward Downey will also benefit from the Supreme Court decision.
Saretzky was given 75 years in jail before parole eligibility after he was convicted of murdering three people, including a two-year-old girl in 2015 and Downey was given 50 years before parole eligibility after he was found guilty of murdering a mother and her five-year-old daughter in 2016.
Victims rights groups argue that concurrent sentences don’t reflect the fact that multiple lives were taken.
The judgement of Joshua Gregory Frank v. Her Majesty the Queen can be found under case number 39789.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review