RED DEER, Alta. — The trial of a central Alberta man accused of killing his family heard evidence Thursday that was gathered during an elaborate RCMP undercover operation where Mounties posed as members of a crime organization.
Jason Klaus and Joshua Frank are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus four years ago.
The RCMP "Mr. Big" sting operation was aimed at coaxing Klaus into admitting he was responsible for their deaths.
In the end, he insisted it was Joshua Frank who shot his family at a farmhouse near Castor on Dec. 8, 2013.
Court heard that undercover Mounties spent four months building up trust with Klaus by making him an active part of what he thought was a crime ring.
The whole time they drove home one underlying message – if Klaus was honest, the crime organization could make his troubles go away.
One officer who testified said that the operation progressed quickly and that Klaus was enthusiastic. During the sting operation Klaus was paid more than $13,000 for the work he did for the crime organization.
The Mounties involved in the sting can't be named under a court-ordered publication ban.
Justice Eric Macklin, who is hearing the case without a jury, is to determine if the evidence is admissable.
To prevent Klaus from becoming suspicious, RCMP presented a dramatic scenario in which one of the gang members had beaten a prostitute nearly to death.
A female Mountie played the role of the prostitute on June 2, 2014. She was put in the trunk of a car, apparenty unconscious.
A Mountie testified that later that night Klaus confessed that he helped plan the murder of his family.
After saying it was Frank who pulled the trigger of the gun that killed his parents and sister, Klaus said they could pay Frank to disappear.
Nine days later, Klaus recanted his confession in a text message to his supposed friend.
"Hey man, to be perfectly honest I don’t have a clue what happened at my parents’ house,” the late night message read.
"[I’m] not going to put you guys at risk … for some reason the heat is on and I didn’t have any part of this."
However, after more time had passed, Klaus went back to his original story and told it to Mr. Big himself during a meeting in Calgary.
Court heard that Mr. Big wasn’t entirely convinced and asked to meet with Frank.
That’s when Klaus arranged a meeting in a parking lot.
A Mountie testified that after being introduced to the group by Klaus, Frank met privately with one of the undercover officers and confessed to shooting the Klaus family before burning their house to the ground.
Frank went further by taking them to where he threw the murder weapon, a pistol, into the Battle River. He also claimed that he still had the lighter used to start the fire along with one of the bullets from the gun.
A police dive team from B.C. recovered the gun from the river. Klaus and Frank were arrested on Aug. 15, 2014.
The Crown is expected to finish presenting its case Friday.
Troy Gillard RD News Now, The Canadian Press