Accused killer Jason Klaus took the stand Tuesday and blamed the murders of his parents and sister on his co-accused.
Klaus spent all day on the witness stand in a Red Deer courtroom, undergoing direct examination from his lawyer, Allan Fay.
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On the night before the murders, Klaus said, he and Joshua Frank were drinking at a bar in Castor, Alta. Klaus testified he was extremely intoxicated, after downing eight beers, 20 vodka screwdrivers and snorting a few lines of cocaine.
The two friends are charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus.
According to Klaus, he and Frank came up with a drunken plan to commit insurance fraud by stealing his family's farm truck. He said he drove Frank to the family farm and dropped his friend off at the end of the lane.
Days later, he said, Frank told him he'd come up with an independent plan to go into the house and steal a trophy deer head.
"He went up the stairs into the kitchen," Klaus testified in Court of Queen's Bench. "He went to grab the deer head. As he was taking it off the wall, he heard a dog barking. It was my sister's little dog."
'He shot my sister'
Klaus said Frank told him he had dropped the deer head and knocked the Christmas tree over.
"He saw my sister. He shot my sister," Klaus told a packed courtroom. "Then there was another person coming down the hallway with a gun. He shot him. He heard a scream, which was mom. And he shot her.
"Then he said he had to shoot Monica again, because she was not dead."
Klaus testified he started crying and yelling when Frank recounted the night of the murders.
"I'm wanting to hurt him very bad," Klaus said. "I was in shock. I didn't know what to do.
"He told me it was a complete accident."
He testified that Frank warned him not to tell anyone about the murders.
"He warned me if I said anything to anybody that he will shoot me or have my life in danger. I took that fairly seriously."
"He said if I went to the cops or any of my family members and told them, he was going to include me in the plan of killing the family and taking the deer head. And also he was going to put a bullet in my head and possibly another family member."
"He was going to say that I helped him plan this."
After he heard Frank's confession, Klaus said, he stayed alone in his room for the next three or four days. He said in hindsight he regrets not going to police, but at the time was scared of being implicated in his family's deaths.
"Because I would never hurt my family," he said.