Trial draws to a close

A six-week triple-murder trial full of twists is drawing to a close.

RCMP Cpl. Joany Paradis who acted as crime scene manager at the Klaus family farm, was the last person to testify Tuesday morning, bringing the evidence portion of the trial to a close.

On Wednesday, defence lawyers for Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank, and Crown prosecutors, will make their final submissions to Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin. Submissions are expected to take all day.

Then, Macklin will weigh the evidence and decide whether Frank and Klaus are guilty of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Klaus’ parents, Gordon and Sandra, and his sister Monica in December 2013.

Paradis testified Tuesday that she was involved in marking the location of a frozen red substance found in the snow near the Klaus’ burned-out house on the farm, about 10 km northeast of Castor. The stain was later identified as Jason Klaus’ blood.

A team of three Crown prosecutors have been assigned to the trial. They have accused Klaus and Frank of planning the murders together, with Frank firing the fatal shots on the morning of Dec. 8, 2013. Shortly after, the Klaus farmhouse was burned to the ground in an effort to destroy evidence, the Crown has argued.

Testifying in his own defence, Klaus denied killing his family. He was lying when he told undercover police officers he had arranged the killings. Likewise, a confession given to RCMP after hours of questioning the day following his Aug. 15, 2014, arrest, was false, he testified.

Frank testified a detailed confession he gave a police undercover officer during a four-month RCMP Mr. Big sting in mid-2014 was a lie told to help Klaus establish himself with the supposed criminal organization.

Klaus blamed Frank for the killings and the arson. Klaus testified he did not know what had happened that night until Frank told him several days after the fire.

Frank testified that Klaus was responsible for shooting his family and setting the fire. Frank said he had gone with Klaus hoping to get drugs when they wound up at the family farm. He had no idea that Klaus was going to kill his family, he testified.

Both men said they did not go to police with what they knew because they had each threatened the other with death if they spoke up.

The trial featured lengthy voir dires to establish the admissibility of evidence gathered during interviews with Klaus and Frank in the days after their arrests. Macklin ruled a portion of the interviews with Frank were not admissible because his repeated requests to use the bathroom were ignored for almost two hours.

Voir dires are often described as a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence.

A second voir dire focused on the Mr. Big evidence gathered from April to July 2014. Aimed at Klaus, the sting operation convinced him he was becoming involved with a criminal organization. Twenty-six different “scenarios” involved Klaus, who had more than 150 hours of contact with undercover officers.

In the 14th scenario, Klaus confessed that he planned the murder of his family but did not pull the trigger. He would later repeat that version of events in a meeting with Mr. Big.

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