Months after the deaths of a Castor-area family, Jason Klaus continued to refuse a polygraph exam as requested by investigators.
Day three of the trial against Klaus and Joshua Frank continued on Wednesday with Sgt. Robert Kropp remaining on the stand.
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, in December 2013.
Joshua 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.
On Monday, Crown Prosecutor Douglas Taylor entered into a voir dire to determine the voluntariness of Jason. That voir dire, which is held to determine admissibility of evidence, is expected to continue into the middle of next week.
Sgt. Robert Kropp, of the major crimes unit south branch, could be seen interviewing Jason on Feb. 16th, 2014. He asked Jason if he would consent to taking a polygraph exam at that time. Jason indicated he would not take an exam that day as he was following his lawyer’s instructions and he had been battling the flu for a number of days prior.
Kropp then introduced Jason to Sgt. Daniel McCullum, a polygraph examiner, and left the two to talk alone.
McCullum told Jason he had his equipment in another room and they could proceed with a polygraph exam if Jason consented. Again, Jason said he would not do the exam that day, but he did want to do it down the road.
“I want to talk to my lawyer. I still want to take it if it helps me carry on and takes me out of the picture, great,” said Jason.
McCullum then asked Jason about the relationship he had with his family.
“We were a close family. (Dad) was one of my best friends. Me and mom were closer – I was mom’s little boy. She was loving and always there for me,” he said. “(Monica) was my guardian. She was very strong and very independent. We were always there for one another.
“There is not one family that was like us. We did everything together. You have that for 38 years and then wake up and your life does a 180.”
McCullum asked Jason what he thought happened the night of the fire.
“Whatever happened was not planned that night,” said Jason. “I believe my deer head was taken (which Jason said was worth $200,000-$300,000 previously during recordings played at the trial). But why shoot the family dog? I can’t get over that. She would have protected if anyone was in danger, I’m sure of that.”
Later in his discussion with Jason, McCullum said police intended to get data and photographs from Google Earth and the government to see what traffic was in the area before, during and after the fire.
“It would be one more thing to corroborate strength for your alibi,” said McCullum.
McCullum then left the room and Kropp re-entered asking Jason again if he would be willing to take the polygraph exam that day.
“The longer the delay the more our attention is mis-focused,” Kropp said. “We want to eliminate people as quickly as possible.”
Jason said he would not take the exam that day, “But I’m pretty sure I’m going to go through with it.”
Kropp said at the end of the day it was Jason’s decision but would Jason want to read on the front page of the Stettler Independent a headline that says, ‘Son of deceased family refuses to take lie detector test’, indicating public perception might not be in his favour.
Meanwhile, court also heard the next interaction between Kropp and Jason – an audio recording on April 2nd, 2014. Kropp attended Jason’s residence with another officer asking if Jason would provide a DNA sample by consent.
“How have you been holding up?” Kropp asked. Jason replied, “Terrible. I just got off the phone with someone and I was crying in relation to my mom missing,” before questioning Kropp as to why he hadn’t heard from him regarding updates on the investigation.
“I talked to you about getting a polygaph but I thought you needed space,” said Kropp, adding investigators had found DNA evidence at the scene and asked Jason if he would provide his DNA.
“I’m not going to do anything without my lawyer. I am willing to cooperate but I’m not going to do anything without my lawyer – that is what I was advised,” said Jason.
The trial continues and is expected to run through to Nov. 24th.