RED DEER, Alta. — A central Alberta man accused of killing his parents and sister is sticking to his story that his friend pulled the trigger and that he failed to go to police out of fear that he would be next.
Jason Klaus was testifying under cross-examination Thursday in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.
He and Joshua Frank each face three counts of first-degree murder in the December 2013 deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus.
Earlier in the trial Klaus told court that he and Frank planned to steal a truck from his father as part of an insurance fraud scheme.
He said the plan went awry when Frank entered the family home to steal a prized deer head and shot his family members in the head before lighting the house on fire and shooting the family dog.
Klaus said he was waiting in his vehicle at the end of the lane while all of this took place.
On Aug. 16, 2014, Klaus told police that he helped plan the murders.
On Thursday he testified he didn’t help plan the shootings.
“What I told police was a lie,” Klaus testified Thursday.
Klaus testified he was afraid of Frank after he threatened to kill him if he told police the truth.
Tonii Roulston, Frank’s lawyer, challenged Klaus during cross-examination.
“Josh Frank never threatened you,” she suggested. “That didn’t happen.”
“No. That’s not true,” said Klaus.
Roulston went further, suggesting that it was Klaus who killed his family.
“No, you’re wrong there,” Klaus said.
Earlier in the trial court heard the two men were the target of an undercover RCMP “Mr. Big” sting operation. Undercover Mounties recruited the two men to a bogus crime organization in the hope they would confess.
Klaus told court that he told an undercover Mountie on June 2, 2014, that he helped plan the killings so that he could move up the ranks of the organization.
He later recanted the confession, but later confessed a second time.
Klaus is to face further cross-examination on Friday at the trial which Justice Eric Macklin is hearing without a jury.