Douglas Garland sentenced to life with no parole for 75 years
Published Friday, February 17, 2017 6:06AM MST Last Updated Friday, February 17, 2017 8:30PM MST
Douglas Garland has been sentenced to consecutive life terms for killing Alvin and Kathy Liknes and Nathan O'Brien and will not be eligible for parole for 75 years.
Justice David Gates handed down the sentence on Friday afternoon after addressing the court for several hours.
In rendering his decision, Gates said that it was not one continuous set of circumstances and that Nathan had to be considered separately because he was not part of the original plan.
He also told the court that the crime was carried out with 'meticulous planning and precision' and that ‘tools of his gruesome and barbaric acts’ were found at the Garland farm.
Gates said that Nathan's brief life was extinguished because of an impromptu decision to have a sleepover and that Alvin and Kathy were robbed of their golden years and Nathan of his future.
Garland did not address the court and the courtroom erupted in applause when the sentence was read.
Kim Ross, Garland's lawyer, says the sentence was not a surprise and that he spoke to his client on Friday afternoon.
"It wasn't totally unexpected. I think we anticipated that this might be the result but, like I said, we want to take some time and review it and, you know, just digest the whole process," he said. "I went down and I spoke with him briefly and, as I said, I don't think there’s anything that wasn’t anticipated so, as I said, we're going to take some time and I'll, we'll speak to him some time in the future."
Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin released a statement following the sentencing saying that he has ‘immense pride’ in the work done by officers.
"Investigations of this magnitude require an approach that reaches across all areas of the police service. It requires time, diligence, intensity, and a commitment that is all consuming. It is this ability to work together to support one another and to persevere through the most difficult of moments, which reflects the strength of our organization.
We know so well this is not about us; it is first and foremost about the families who have had their lives changed in ways that are unimaginable to most of us. This trial brings them no closure as they live every day with the void of a loved one, but we do hope the outcome brings them some measure of comfort. We will continue to hold them in our thoughts"
Victim impact statements were read before the sentence was handed down.
Nathan's parents, Jennifer and Rod O'Brien, read their statements in court and letter from Alvin's daughter, Nancy, and Alvin and Kathy's sons, Jeff and Allen, were read by the Crown.
Jennifer O'Brien read her statement first, saying that two and a half years after losing her son, she still 'fights the darkness'.
"Sometimes I'm angry, other days I just cry all day," she told the court.
She also spoke about the impact of the loss on her other children, Luke and Max.
"I cry for my son Luke who is thrust into traumatic loss," she said, noting that Max will only have videos and whatever his parents tell him to remember Nathan.
Rod O'Brien read his statement next, telling the court that his son would have been eight and a half if he was still alive.
He said Nathan's loss has been particularly difficult for his other children and that he finds it particularly hard when they ask why Nathan died and about who hurt him. "I have no answers," he told the court, wiping away tears as he recalled memories of his son.
Rod's statement also included a recollection of the last moment he had spent with Nathan, telling him that he loved him and he was proud of him.
Crown prosecutor Shane Parker, in his final submissions during sentencing, said that the Garland case involved an incredible amount of brutality. 'Not only do you have death, you have torture," he said.
Parker say that Nathan had his whole life ahead of him. "These acts display a character of evil. You can't rehabilitate evil," he said.
He said that 10 of the 12 jurors recommended consecutive parole ineligibility for 75 years and the Crown agreed with that.
Garland's defence lawyer Kim Ross addressed the court in his final submissions, saying that the murders were one continuous act. He asked for a 50 year ineligibility, concurrent for Alvin and Kathy and consecutive for Nathan.
However, Justice Gates disagreed and said that a 50 year ineligibility would be no different to their client than a 75 year ineligibility.
It took the jury eight and a half hours of deliberation to find Garland, 57, guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the 2014 deaths.
There were loud sobs and gasps from the families of the victims, who hugged and cried as the verdicts were read. During the trial, Garland sat still in the prisoner’s box and had no reaction.
Garland will not be able to apply for parole until 2089 and his sentence matches the stiffest sentence handed down in Canadian history.
Justin Bourque, the man who shot and killed three RCMP officers and wounded two others in Moncton on June 6, 2014, was given five life sentences with no chance of parole for 75 years.