RED DEER, Alta. — An Alberta judge has ruled that two men found guilty of murdering three family members will not have to spend additional time in prison before they can apply for parole.
Jason Klaus, 42, and Joshua Frank, 32, have instead been sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years — which is automatic under the Criminal Code for first-degree murder.
Justice Eric Macklin told court in Red Deer, Alta., on Wednesday that factors in the case were not particularly uncommon compared with other murders and did not warrant consecutive sentences.
He also suggested that the two men would have a better chance of rehabilitation if they were not “bereft of hope.”
Klaus and Frank, sitting in the prisoner’s dock, did not change their expressions as the judge spoke.
The bodies of Klaus’s father and sister were found in their burned-out farmhouse near Castor, Alta., in December 2013. His mother’s body was never found but police believe she also died in the house.
The Crown had argued that the two men deserved the maximum of 75 years without hope of parole for what the prosecution called a “contract killing of sorts.”
The defence said the murders weren’t as gruesome as other cases that resulted in consecutive sentences.
There are provisions in the Criminal Code to have sentences served one after the other for multiple murders. But Macklin said that although their crimes were horrific, delaying parole for Klaus and Frank would be “a decision out of the ordinary.”
The Court of Queen’s Bench justice said there’s a misconception that multiple murderers automatically get out of prison after 25 years. He said chances of that are slim, because the Parole Board of Canada won’t release anyone who is at a risk to reoffend.
During the trial, court heard that Klaus was having problems with his father and offered Frank Money to kill the family. Klaus had a cocaine and gambling addiction and forged cheques on his parents account, promising to pay them back.
Frank told police after his arrest that he killed the family because he was scared that Klaus would shoot him if he didn’t.
Consecutive periods of parole ineligibility have been imposed in Alberta in three other triple-murder cases.
Derek Saretzky was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years in the first-degree murders of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father Terry Blanchette and senior Hanne Meketech in 2015.
Douglas Garland was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 75 years for killing Alvin and Kathy Liknes of Calgary and their five-year-old grandson, Nathan O’Brien, in 2014.
Armoured-car guard Travis Baumgartner was sentenced to life with no chance at parole for 40 years for killing three of his colleagues during a robbery in a mall at the University of Alberta in June 2012.
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