Alberta’s top court weighs consecutive parole ineligibilities
Murders can’t be ‘cheaper by the dozen,’ Crown argues in triple-murder case
Murders can’t be “cheaper by the dozen” a prosecutor said Tuesday, in asking the Alberta Court of Appeal to increase the punishments for two triple-murderers.
Crown lawyer Iwona Kuklicz said the decision of Justice Eric Macklin to set the period of parole ineligibility for convicted killers Joshua Frank and Jason Klaus at 25 years put an illegal onus on the prosecution to prove they’d be dangerous beyond that time.
But defence counsel Michael Bates said that by saying there was no evidence the two men could not be rehabilitated after a quarter century, Macklin wasn’t saying the Crown had to prove it.
A three-member Alberta Court of Appeal panel heard arguments involving two cases of triple-murder and whether consecutive periods of parole ineligibility are warranted.
Both Frank and Klaus were sentenced to life in prison for the hit man-style murders of the latter’s parents and adult sister, but Macklin found their automatic period of parole ineligibility of 25 years for each killing would run at the same time.
The province’s top court also heard arguments on why Douglas Garland, who murdered a Calgary couple and their five-year-old grandson, should not have been given consecutive 25-year periods of parole ineligibility.
Both Macklin and Justice David Gates, who sentenced Garland, had the option of setting ineligibility at 25, 50 or 75 years.
Bates said Macklin considered the issue of deterrence in determining a fit sentence for Klaus and Frank, and decided 50 or 75 years wasn’t needed to deter others from such crimes.
But Kuklicz argued that Parliament, in passing legislation allowing for consecutive periods of parole ineligibility, recognized multiple offences had to be treated more harshly.
“It does become a situation where crimes become cheaper by the dozen and that is the concern Parliament had,” Kuklicz said, in asking the appeal judges to rule Macklin erred and sentence Frank and Klaus afresh.
Klaus hired Frank to fatally shoot his parents and sister on Dec. 8, 2013, in their farmhouse near Castor, about 140 kilometres east of Red Deer, and set the home ablaze for their life insurance and the property he would inherit.
Lawyers Kim Ross and Alias Sanders argued Gates erred in ordering Garland held without parole until he reaches at least the age of 129, for the June 30, 2014, murders of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their grandson, Nathan O’brien.
They argued Gates, among other things, failed to take into account the principle of totality in sentencing in handing Garland such a harsh punishment.
But Crown prosecutor Christine Rideout said the 75-year parole ineligibility was appropriate.
“It encompasses the multiple murders committed by Mr. Garland,” Rideout said.
“The judge did take that principle into account,” she said.
“When you look at these murders, they could not be more serious than they were.”
The appeal judges reserved their decision.
Appeal judges must decide whether Joshua Frank and Jason Klaus should have 25, 50 or 75 years of parole ineligibility.