Friend killed family

A central Alberta man accused of killing his parents and sister took the stand in his own defence Tuesday, telling the court that his friend gunned them down during a botched attempt to steal a deer head.

Jason Klaus and Josh Frank each face three counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 8, 2013, deaths of Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus.

Klaus told court that Frank shot his family after taking the head of a trophy whitetail deal off of the wall of the family's farmhouse.

Frank dropped the deer head on the floor after spooking the family dog and then knocked over their Christmas tree.

The bungled theft took a deadly turn when someone approached in the dark.

"He shot my sister," Klaus testified while fighting away tears.

"There was another person coming down the hallway with a gun. He shot him. He heard a scream, which was mom, and he shot her. Then he said he had to shoot Monica again, because she wasn't dead."

Klaus told court that he and Frank were drinking at a bar in nearby Castor, Alta., before the killings took place, and that he was extremely intoxicated.

Together they had come up with a plan to commit insurance fraud by having Frank steal a truck from the Klaus's farmyard.

Stealing the deer head was not part of the plan.

Klaus said the shootings left him in shock and he was afraid to go to police.

"He said if I went to the cops or any of my family members and told them, he was going to include me in the plan of killing the family and taking the deer head," Klaus testified.

"Also, he was going to put a bullet in my head and possibly another family member. He was going to say that I helped him plan this."

Klaus's testimony about what happened that night is different from the one he and Frank each told undercover Mounties during a Mr. Big sting operation.

In 2014 he told RCMP undercover officers that he had helped Frank plan to murder his family, but that it was Frank who pulled the trigger, a story Frank corroborated.

Klaus was expected to finish his testimony Wednesday before facing cross-examination.

Frank is to take the stand later this week at Red Deer Court of Queen's Bench

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