Lawyers present final arguments at Garland triple murder trial
Published Monday, February 13, 2017 6:00AM MST Last Updated Monday, February 13, 2017 7:22PM MST
The Crown and defence presented final arguments at the Douglas Garland triple murder trial as the fifth week of proceedings began on Monday.
Garland, 57, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathy Liknes.
** WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT FOLLOWS **
The jury has heard from nearly 50 witnesses and experts over the last four weeks.
Prosecutors maintain that Garland kidnapped the three from the Liknes’ Parkhill home in June 2014 and then killed them at the Airdrie acreage where he lived with his parents.
Crown Prosecutor Shane Parker told the jury that Garland meticulously planned, researched and finally carried out the murders.
He said Garland held a grudge against Alvin Liknes for years over the patent to an oil pump and that he never forgave him.
"He stewed. He planned, researched and read books like 'How To Kill'," Parker said.
Parker said that it was no coincidence that Garland struck on the day of the estate sale. "All phrases of capture and death were planned and researched from beginning to end."
During his final arguments, Parker showed the jury a series of photographs and said that the disabled lock showed planning and the possession of certain skills to complete the task.
He stated that the bloody handprint indicated that the scene was a violent one and that an image of the kitchen floor showed an attempt was made to cleanup to hide evidence of the crime.
Parker told the court that there was more in Garland's mind than simply killing his victims, as evidenced in the dagger and handcuffs found in the black bag recovered from the farm.
"This was a capture kit," he said, adding that the attack took place in the middle of the night at the most vulnerable time of the day.
He said that evidence recovered from the Liknes’ home showed that the three victims were still alive when they left the house and that every action Garland made while there was planned out. "Each step was deliberate. Nothing was an accident," he said.
Parker said Garland held the three against their will when he took them to his parents' farm near Airdrie and that an aerial photograph showed what appeared to be the bodies of Alvin, Kathy and Nathan.
"You know the grainy, pixelated images in that photo are Kathy and Alvin," he said, noting that both were wearing adult diapers.
The final photo Parker showed to the jury was of a police car sitting in the long grass of a field, which was taken the night that Garland attempted to sneak back on to his family's farm.
Parker also spoke about Internet browsing data that was found on a hard drive hidden in the rafters of the Garland home and said Garland looked at a link to an ad of the Liknes' estate sale and noted their address.
He said that Garland also searched for an 'autopsy manual', details on the lock on the side door, Kathy's phone number and Facebook page and Alvin's business contacts and that the web searches proved how meticulous Garland was in planning the murders.
He said that Garland caused the deaths of all three and that cremating the bodies and destroying evidence showed an attempt to cover up the crime. "All the forensic evidence points to Garland," Parker said.
Parker told the jury that it is the Crown's belief that Garland is also guilty of first-degree murder in Nathan’s death.
He told the jury that evidence suggests Nathan was alive when he was taken from the Liknes’ home to the Garland farm and that he could not be left as a witness after he saw the attack on Kathy.
Parker closed by telling the jury about the important responsibility ahead of them and how difficult it has been to hear from the witnesses.
The defence did not present any evidence during the trial and Garland did not testify.
During the defence’s final arguments, lawyer Kim Ross, told the jury that the Crown failed to prove Garland caused the deaths of Alvin, Kathy and Nathan.
Ross said that there is no evidence that Garland was at the Liknes home and that his DNA was also not found there.
He said that there is also no evidence that the three were killed at the Garland farm and that Garland never threatened Alvin Liknes.
He talked about the green truck that police tracked and said that the officer was unable to identify the driver and that there were no bodies in the bed of the vehicle.
“If you have something in the back you don’t want people to see, you want to make sure it’s concealed,” he said.
Ross told the court that no blood was found on the floor mat of Garland’s truck and that there was ‘not one drop of blood, one strand of hair, one skin cell,’ that tied his client to the Liknes’ home.
He told the jury that it is the defence’s submission that the victims never left the house alive and that even though DNA from the victims was found at the farm, there was no proof Garland caused their deaths.
Ross also addressed the hard drive searches and said that there was other material on the device that the jury was not told about and that they only heard a ‘sampling’ of what was there.
On Monday, the families of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and Nathan O'Brien issued a statement saying…
“The last five weeks have taken a heavy toll on us. It has been unbearable for our family and friends to endure the gruesome details that have been presented throughout the trial.
We know this has also been hard on the members of the jury and we thank them for their service.
Nothing will bring Nathan, Alvin and Kathy back to us, but we can only hope the court will see justice done in their names.
Thank you to everyone who has been there to support us through this process, and to the public for your thoughts and prayers.”
The jury will return to court on Wednesday morning to hear instructions from Justice Gates before deliberations begin.