Triple-murder trial start delayed two weeks

Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank on trial for murder of Castor-area family in December 2013

The start of a trial for two men accused of killing three members of a Castor-area family has been delayed two weeks.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin granted a two-week adjournment to allow defence lawyers to adequately prepare for what had been slated as a seven-week trial. It will now begin on Oct. 23.

Lawyers for Jason Gordon Klaus and Joshua Gregory Frank argued on Tuesday morning that the trial should be adjourned because Crown prosecutors did not tell the defence they would be relying on Mr. Big evidence to make their case.

Klaus and Frank have been charged with first-degree murder and arson in connection with the deaths of three members of a Castor family on Dec. 8, 2013. Frank was also charged with shooting the family’s dog.

The bodies of Gordon Klaus, 61 and his daughter, Monica, 40 were found in the remains of their farmhouse. The remains of Gordon’s wife, Sandra, 62, were never found but police believe she was in the home.

RCMP arrested and charged two suspects on Aug. 15, 2014 — Monica’s brother, Klaus, and an acquaintance of his, Frank.

Andrea Urquhart, who with lawyer Tonii Roulston is representing Frank, told the judge that prosecutors had agreed to a June 30 deadline to let defence lawyers know how they planned to use Mr. Big evidence in the upcoming trial.

That deadline came and went with no word from Crown prosecutors. Defence lawyers only found out late last month prosecutors planned to make the evidence from a Mr. Big undercover operation a key part of their case.

Urquhart said that “drastically changes” how the accused will be defended. The defence team must now go through 100 hours of audio and audio-video recorded during the undercover sting operation.

“That’s a very large task,” she said.

Lawyer Allan Fay, who is defending Klaus, agreed with the judge’s assessment that the issue came down to trial fairness and fairness to the accused.

“I think the court has hit on the crux of the issue here. It is trial fairness,” said Fay.

Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor said he only came on to the case on Aug. 29 and did not know why the defence had not been given an indication of the Crown’s Mr. Big evidence intentions back in June or immediately following an Aug. 29 letter from the defence asking for that information.

“You’re right. Somebody should have said something,” he said.

“I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. Regrettably, I can’t,” he said.

After court resumed after a lunch break, Macklin said that he was convinced that if the defence had been notified on Aug. 29 of the role the Mr. Big evidence would likely play in the trial they would have had time to prepare for the start of the trial.

But that did not happen. “I wish to give defence counsel every opportunity to be fully prepared.”

Macklin asked if defence needed a week or two weeks to review the Mr. Big evidence.

Fay said given defence lawyers expect to have to review 10 hours of video and audio recordings per day, two weeks will be required to get through 100 hours.

When court resumes, one of the first jobs of the judge will be to determine whether the Mr. Big evidence is admissible.

Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter


Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff Lawyers Tonii Roulston, Andrea Urquhart (not shown) and Allan Fay are defending Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank, who have been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of three Castor family members.

Just Posted

WATCH: A Russian new year party in Red Deer

Hundreds fill the G.H. Dawe Community Centre for the 10th Russian Children’s New Year Party

Car hits moose north of Red Deer, driver in hospital with life threatening injuries

One person was airlifted to hospital, and another taken by ambulance after… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages to close in 2018

This will be the last Christmas for Red Deer’s Ten Thousand Villages.… Continue reading

Celestial light show can be seen over Red Deer this week

Local students stay up to watch the meteor shower

Businesses to gather to talk about crime

Red Deer Downtown Business Association understands challenges

Watch: Man plays flaming bagpipes while riding a unicycle in a ‘Star Wars’ costume

The sight of Darth Vader, riding a unicycle and playing flaming bagpipes,… Continue reading

Dying man’s wish to see new ‘Star Wars’ movie coming true

A dying man’s wish to see the new “Star Wars” movie is… Continue reading

Bountiful polygamist believed he couldn’t be prosecuted: lawyer

Winston Blackmore’s lawyer says Blackmore did not believe he could be prosecuted

Trudeaus, Mulroneys, Erdem? Canadians who could snag a royal wedding invite

Save the date. Kensington Palace announced Friday that Prince Harry and Meghan… Continue reading

More to be done to ensure timely justice, retiring Beverley McLachlin says

Canada’s retiring top judge says more must be done to ensure the… Continue reading

Labrador mayor who was shot in face in hunting accident has died

John Hickey accidently shot himself while checking rabbit snares

Shelter dogs could go vegan in Los Angeles

Los Angeles may soon be home to a lot more vegan dogs.… Continue reading

The coolest way to serve coffee at dinner’s end

I can put together a decent dinner party. But when it comes… Continue reading

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

One of the thousands of firefighters battling a series of wildfires across… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month