Alberta’s top court is releasing its decision on Monday on whether Castor triple murderers Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank must spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Crown prosecutors appealed the 25-year sentence for the two men who were convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for killing Klaus’s parents and sister on the family farm near Castor in 2013. After shooting all three as they lay in bed, the two men burned down the house to try to destroy all evidence of the crime.
Prosecutors believe the mandatory 25-year sentences should be served consecutively, meaning the men would not be eligible for parole for 75 years, instead of 25.
In sentencing the two men in January 2018, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin ruled that consecutive sentences would be “unduly long and harsh.
”A sentence that extinguishes any hope of release for the offender is a crushing sentence,” said Macklin.
The judges decision angered many supporters of the murdered family, several of whom released statements critical of his decision.
Last June, a Crown prosecutor told the three-judge Alberta Court of Appeal that Macklin had a number of errors in law and their sentence sent the message that their crimes were “cheaper by the dozen.”
Klaus’s lawyer argued that his client would only be eligible for parole after 25 years and that it may not be granted. A life sentenced with no parole for 25 years cannot be considered “demonstrably unfit” because the prisoner may never get out of prison if the parole board chooses.
Frank’s lawyer said consecutive parole ineligibility periods were meant for the most incorrigible multiple murderers and not for cases like that of her client, who had no prior criminal record before the killings.
Also being released on Monday is a decision on Douglas Garland’s appeal of his sentence of life imprisonment with no parole for 75 years after he was found guilty by a jury of killing a five-year-old boy and his grandparents at their Calgary home in June 2014.
The Court of Appeal heard both cases on the same day because of their link on the sentencing issue.