The videotaped confession of accused triple murderer Joshua Frank has been ruled inadmissible by the courts.
Jason Klaus has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of arson in relation to the deaths of his father Gordon Klaus, 61, his mother Sandra Klaus, 62 and his sister Monica Klaus, 40.
Frank has also been charged with three counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths as well as one count of arson and one count of injuring or endangering an animal in relation to the shooting death of the family dog.
The remains of Gordon and Monica were found in what was left of a burnt-out house in Castor on Dec. 8th, 2013.
The body of Sandra has never been found and during a press conference in Calgary in 2014, RCMP Insp. Tony Hamori said police believe her remains were consumed by the fire.
For the first two weeks, the trial was in a voir dire, also known as a trial within a trial, which is held to determine the admissibility of evidence.
On Friday, Justice Eric Macklin ruled that the videotaped confession of Frank was inadmissible because of Frank’s repeated request to use the bathroom. Macklin said investigators waited too long to grant Frank’s request. During that video, court saw Frank recount how he shot Gordon, Sandra and Monica in their beds on Dec. 8th, 2013.
The interview in question took place at the Red Deer RCMP detachment on Aug. 16th, 2014, the day after both Frank and Klaus’ arrest.
In Macklin’s decision, he said a third interview began that day at 6:11 p.m. After more than two hours, Frank, left in the interview room alone, could be heard saying, “Oh I gotta pee.” One hour and eight minutes later Frank asked investigators, “Would it be too much to ask for a pee break?” Frank was asked if he could, “Hang on for a sec.” Frank responded, “Yeah I can hang for a bit, it’s getting kinda bad again…just cause I haven’t hardly eaten anything in the last couple days. Everything I drink seems to go right through me.”
After another 19 minutes, Frank requests to use the bathroom again. Frank is not taken, and the interview continues for another 23 minutes. Frank asks again to use the bathroom and the interview continues for another 10 minutes. Frank can be seen holding his stomach saying, “I really gotta pee.” After another 23 minutes of questioning, Frank tells investigators he needs to go to the bathroom. Four minutes later he says, “Can I please go to the bathroom? I really gotta pee.” After another four minutes, Frank is taken to the bathroom.
In his ruling, Macklin said this may have led Frank to believe that he had no option but to cooperate further in the interview if he wanted a washroom break.
“He may have chosen to speak and offered statements in response to sometimes leading questions simply to allow him to get to the washroom as soon as possible,” said Macklin. “Reasonable access to a washroom, like provision of food is a fundamental physical necessity that must be accommodated and arranged by police for interviewees.”
Macklin accepted voir dire evidence regarding Klaus to be admitted to the trial.
The trial continues in Red Deer on Tuesday.