Joshua Frank’s videotaped murder confession had a “powerful impact,” said a Crown prosecutor in closing arguments Wednesday.
“Anyone who has watched Frank’s cold, matter-of-fact confession will not soon forget it,” said Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor said in closing arguments in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
However, it was the way Frank and Jason Klaus casually chatted after Frank told a supposed crime boss how he killed Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus near Castor on Dec. 8, 2013, that struck Taylor.
These were two men who looked happy and relieved they were getting away with murder and “how ironic that’s the reason we ended up here,” Taylor said to Justice Eric Macklin.
Frank had been summoned by Klaus to the meeting with an undercover police officer in the parking lot of CrossIron Mills mall in July 2014.
Klaus told his underworld friends he had planned the murder of his family but Frank did the shooting.
Frank was there to back up that story because Mr. Big suggested he could set things right.
That story was the truth and both men should be found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, said Taylor
It was a story Klaus told two undercover officers during a four-month RCMP Mr. Big operation and again to police after his arrest in mid-August 2014.
However, in their trial testimony, Klaus and Frank changed their stories. They said they had no idea the killings would happen that night and, it was wholly the work of the other.
They had not gone to police because they feared each other, court heard.
Taylor called the men’s testimony “fanciful concoctions.”
The murders were planned because Klaus disdained his family and was afraid thousands of dollars he had stolen from the farm account was about to be discovered.
For Frank, the motive was “greed for money, pure and simple. He saw an opportunity for easy money and he took it.”
Klaus’ lawyer, Allan Fay, said his client’s confessions were lies. Klaus told the undercover officers he planned the murders as a way to fit in with a criminal organization, and he confessed to police because it’s what he thought they wanted to hear.
Klaus knew details about the shooting of his family because Frank told him, said Fay.
Fear of Frank had stopped Klaus from going to police.
“It was not a contrived fear. It was not made-up fear. It was a real fear.”
When Klaus met Frank at Castor’s Cosmopolitan Hotel the night of the murders they planned to steal a pickup from the family farm for Frank as an insurance scam.
“That was the extent of the scheme. Go there, steal the truck and leave,” said Fay
Klaus testified that he had no idea Frank would go into the home and kill his family that night. He did not find out what Frank had done until he told him a few days later.
Frank’s lawyer, Tonii Roulston, said it was Klaus who did the killing and later told various versions of what happened that night to manipulate people.
“I think he fancied himself a mastermind. He’s just not a very smart one.”
Frank feared Klaus and was coached to tell Mr. Big he did the shooting.
Roulston pointed out that Frank had routinely lied and it would be wrong to assume the one time he told the truth was when he spoke to Mr. Big. He was playing a role and made up details to sell the story, she said.
Since both Frank and Klaus frequently lied what they say is less important than what can be corroborated by the evidence, she said.
When Frank confessed to Mr. Big he was wrong on important details, suggesting he was not the actual shooter.
Macklin said he will give his verdict on Jan. 10.