Al­berta’s top court weighs con­sec­u­tive pa­role in­el­i­gi­bil­i­ties

Mur­ders can’t be ‘cheaper by the dozen,’ Crown ar­gues in triple-mur­der case

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - KEVIN MARTIN Kmartin@post­media.com Twit­ter: @Kmart­in­courts

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.

RCMP VIDEO SCREEN GRAB

Ap­peal judges must de­cide whether Joshua Frank and Ja­son Klaus should have 25, 50 or 75 years of pa­role in­el­i­gi­bil­ity.

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