Two men convicted of triple murder will find out Wednesday whether they have any hope of getting out of prison.
Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank were found guilty in a Red Deer courtroom Jan. 10 of three counts each of first-degree murder. After a six-week trial, Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin said he was convinced the men plotted the murder of Klaus’ parents, Gordon and Sandra and his sister Monica, and that Frank pulled the trigger on a cold winter night in December 2013 at the Klaus farmhouse near Castor.
A first-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance for parole for at least 25 years.
The decision in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Eric Macklin is whether to make the sentences consecutive, which would mean Klaus and Frank could not apply for parole for 75 years. Macklin could also make two of the convictions consecutive, which would mean 50 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
The courtroom is expected to be packed, as it was for every day of the six-week trial that wrapped at the end of November.
Crown prosecutor Douglas Taylor called for 75 years before parole eligibility, although he conceded that a 50-year parole eligibility term would likely mean both men would die in prison.
Taylor said in court Jan. 22 the men’s crimes amounted to a “contract killing of sorts.”
Klaus’ lawyer, Allan Fay, argued life with no parole for 25 years was appropriate. Consecutive sentences should be reserved for even more brutal crimes, he suggested.
Andrea Urquhart, representing Frank, also argued no parole for 25 years was the right sentence because it offered him a chance at rehabilitation.
“In Canada, rehabilitation is what defines us,” she said.
Consecutive triple life sentences have been handed down recently in Alberta courtrooms.
Derek Saretzky was sentenced last August to consecutive life sentences with no parole for 75 years for killing two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father Terry Blanchette and senior Hanne Meketech in the Crowsnest Past in 2015.
In handing down the sentence, Justice William Tilleman said he was satisfied Saretzky was “dangerous.”
Consecutive life sentences were also given to Douglas Garland. He violently kidnapped Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson, Nathan O’Brien, from the couple’s Calgary home on June 30, 2014, and murdered them at his Airdrie farm. He was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to consecutive life sentences in February 2017.
Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said Garland was responsible for a “brutal crime of stark horror.”