Crown persecutor Doug Taylor, centre, leaves court after Joshua Frank and Jason Klaus were pronounced guilty by a judge in Red Deer, Alta., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. The pair were found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus’s parents and sister in a rural home near Castor, Alberta in December 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years

The pair were found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus’s parents and sister in a rural home near Castor, Alberta

An Alberta judge is expected to hear arguments today that two men who murdered three family members and burned their bodies should spend the rest of their lives in prison without parole.

Jason Klaus, 42, and Joshua Frank, 32, were found guilty earlier this month on three charges of first-degree murder.

The bodies of Gordon Klaus and his daughter, Monica, were found in their burned-out farmhouse near Castor, Alta., in December 2013. Sandra Klaus was never found, although police believe her body was also in the house.

The victims were Jason Klaus’s father, mother and sister.

Crown prosecutor Doug Taylor said he will be seeking to keep both men behind bars for 75 years before either are eligible to apply for parole.

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.

“Part of the reason that the legislation was enacted was to recognize the value of each individual life in a case like this,” Taylor said after the conviction.

“We feel it’s appropriate to be asking the court to impose consecutive penalties on counts two and three totalling what would be effectively life, no chance of parole, for 75 years.”

Klaus’s lawyer doesn’t think consecutive sentencing should apply.

“I’m hoping to avoid it. From what I have seen of the law where sentences of that kind have been imposed … there have been cases where there are truly horrifying facts not present in this particular case,” said Allan Fay after the verdict was released Jan. 10.

“I’m specifically referring to the Crowsnest triple-murder case that was recently decided in Lethbridge.”

Derek Saretzky was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years last August after being convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for killing two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father Terry Blanchette and senior Hanne Meketech in the Crowsnest Pass in 2015.

Consecutive periods of parole ineligibility have also been imposed in Alberta in other triple-murder cases.

Douglas Garland was sentenced last February to life in prison without parole for 75 years for killing Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson, Nathan O’Brien, in 2014.

And armoured-car guard Travis Baumgartner was sentenced in September 2013 to life in prison 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.

Klaus and Frank each blamed the other for the killings and both had confessed to an undercover RCMP officer.

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 did it because he was scared that Klaus would shoot him if he didn’t.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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