Kerrobert farmhand Johnny Klassen guilty of murdering his father in 2016
Judge accepts Klassen has schizophrenia, but rules he knew what he was doing
WARNING: This story contains details that may disturb some readers
A 28-year-old Kerrobert farmhand has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the Nov. 2, 2016, slaying of his father.
Justice Gerald Albright ruled Friday that, although Johnny Klassen has schizophrenia, he knew what he was doing when he slashed his father Johan "Papa John" Klassen's throat clean through to the spine and that he knew it was wrong.
Albright delivered a 90-minute oral decision in Saskatoon Court of Queen's Bench that recapped the testimony of all witnesses heard in the trial.
A second-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for at least ten years. Albright ruled that Johnny will be able to apply for parole in eight years, as he has already been in custody for two years. Prosecutor Dorinda Stahl did not argue for a lengthier term of parole ineligibility.
"The circumstances of his death are horrific and chilling," Albright said.
Johan and Johnny Klassen, father and son, were itinerant farmhands known in the Kerrobert area as "Papa John" and "Little Johnny." At the time of his death, Johan was living in an apartment in the old Kerrobert town hall. He had recently travelled to Lethbridge to pick up his son because of concerns with Johnny's mental health.
Albright noted in the evidence review that the night before the murder, one of Johnny's brothers had commented to their father, "You'll need to do something or he'll kill you."
Police later learned that Johnny had a prescription for medication to manage his illness, but that it had gone unfilled.
RCMP responding to the call of a possible homicide at the Kerrobert town hall arrived to a grisly scene. The victim was on his back on the floor in a large pool of blood, with spatter extending up the walls.
The pathologist who did the autopsy said Johan died within minutes of having his throat slashed through to the spine and receiving multiple blows to the head.
"It was a non-survivable injury," Albright quoted from the report.
Interview after arrest an 'unequivocal admission'
Albright focused a significant amount of time on an interview Johnny did with RCMP hours after the murder. He said this shaped his decision to find the 28-year-old responsible for the death of his father.
"I killed my Dad. He pissed me off too much," Albright quoted from the interview.
During the interview, Johnny told the officer that he washed the blood from his hands and the knife and then left to steal a Peterbilt semi from a nearby farm.
After a police chase, he drove the big truck into a slough believing officers could not follow because he was in water.
Johnny also talked about how he had repeatedly stomped on his father's head "to stabilize his nerves" so that he would not feel the stabbing, Albright said.
Albright said that Johnny was quiet but coherent for much of the police interview, until the end when he launched into a four-minute "unfathomable monologue that showed … a disordered mind."
In the end, Albright said he regarded the interview as "a candid, unequivocal admission with a detailed commentary on his reasons why."
Johnny declined the opportunity to speak when given the opportunity after hearing Albright's decision.
Albright recommended to the Correctional Service of Canada that Johnny serve his sentence at the Regional Psychiatric Centre.