CALGARY—An Alberta man waiting for a jury’s verdict lived under an assumed name and did time for drug trafficking years before facing first-degree murder charges in the deaths of a couple and their grandson.
Douglas Garland, 57, was the oldest of three children born to Archie and Doreen Garland and grew up on a small farm near Airdrie, Alta., north of Calgary.
Doreen Garland told her son’s trial that he attended Camrose Lutheran College where he took a bachelor of science before switching to the University of Alberta.
“He was admitted into first-year medicine at the University of Alberta. He attended for a few months there and seemed to have had kind of a breakdown and so he left the university,” she testified.
Her son had no friends and seemed troubled, she said.
“Well, he’s my son. I love him. I’ve always loved him but I think he’s an unhappy man.”
The jury also heard evidence about the name Matthew Kemper Hartley. It appeared on a number of documents, a credit card and some online accounts.
A cemetery website lists a 14-year-old boy with the same name who was buried in southern Alberta in 1980 after he died in a car accident along with his 12-year-old sister.
Court records show it was a name Garland assumed as his own, using it for seven years when he fled to Vancouver after Mounties raided his parents’ property in 1992 and found an amphetamines drug lab. He made one court appearance and then disappeared.
Mounties caught up to Garland in 1999 in Richmond, B.C., where he had also been arrested in the theft of a tractor-trailer.
Parole Board of Canada documents show Garland was returned to Alberta and sentenced in January 2000 to 39 months in prison on two drug-trafficking charges. He served just a fraction of the sentence.
“While the weapons and assault charges are indicative that you may commit a violent offence, given that you are 40 years of age and have never incurred a conviction for violence and in the absence of documented indicators of a propensity for violence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe release is likely to result in a violent crime,” wrote the board in its decision to grant him parole in June of that year.
“The board is satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that, if released, you are likely to commit an offence involving violence before the expiration of your sentence, and directs your release.”
The panel did express a concern that Garland’s mental health could lead to additional criminal activity.
“Concerns regarding mental issues have contributed to the property offences and close monitoring by a psychologist and psychiatrist will be required.”
Another review by the board in October 2000 indicated Garland’s mental health had stabilized.