Closing arguments in Alberta triple murder trial, Crown says both accused guilty

RED DEER, Alta. - The trial of two men accused of killing three members of a central Alberta family wrapped up Wednesday with the Crown arguing that both share responsibility for the slayings.

Joshua Frank and Jason Klaus are charged with first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus's parents and sister in a home near Castor on Dec. 8, 2013.

"The Crown respectfully submits that Klaus and Frank are both guilty of the planned and deliberate murders of Gordon, Sandra and Monica and should be found guilty of all three counts," prosecutor Douglas Taylor said.

The Crown contends that Klaus planned the murders and Frank pulled the trigger before the house was set on fire to destroy the evidence.

Taylor said Klaus helped Frank by supplying the murder weapon, a 9 mm handgun, and giving him a ride to the farm.

The Crown said Klaus wanted his parents and sister dead over fear they would discover that he had forged cheques from the family's account. He also wanted the family farm.

Taylor described Frank as a destitute drug addict who saw an opportunity to enrich himself and took it.

"Frank's motive was greed for money, pure and simple," he said.

During the trial the court heard that both men told the same story about what happened to undercover RCMP in 2014, but gave vastly different accounts when each took the witness stand in their own defence.

Klaus said he and Frank had planned to steal a truck from the farm when Frank strayed from the plan by going into the farmhouse to steal a trophy deer head and then shot the three victims.

Klaus said he didn't tell anyone because Frank threatened to kill him if he did.

Frank testified that it was Klaus who planned and carried out the murders and then ordered him to say he did it. Frank said he went along with it because he was afraid of Klaus.

Klaus's lawyer, Allan Fay, said his client had nothing to do with the murders and said Frank's testimony was nothing but a tapestry of lies.

"It was he who killed the Klaus family, he who burned the house down."

Tonii Roulston, Frank's lawyer, said Klaus shared details of the murders that only the killer himself would know.

Justice Eric Macklin, who heard the trial without a jury, asked Roulston why she thought Klaus's story constantly changed.

She said it was because Klaus was constantly manipulating people.

"He fancies himself as a mastermind," she said. "But he's just not a very smart one."

Macklin is to deliver his verdict on Jan. 10. (RD News Now)

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