CALGARY—A man has been found guilty of first-degree murder for killing a couple and their young grandson and disposing of their bodies by burning them.
Douglas Garland, 57, was charged in the deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O’Brien in June 2014.
The victims’ family wept openly as the verdicts were read. There was no reaction from Garland.
“They’re numb,” prosecutor Shane Parker said outside court. “They’re still processing. They’ve lost Kathy, they’ve lost Alvin and they’ve lost Nathan.”
He said the outcome in a courtroom can’t help ease the pain loved ones feel.
“At the end of the day, the loss of three critical people in their family — grandparents, brothers, sister … nephew — this decision doesn’t change that. They still have to grieve.”
Parker said the verdicts were just in a case the Crown took very seriously.
“We put the most effort that we possibly could to seek justice. We sure didn’t want to let the community or the family down.”
Jurors deliberated between eight and nine hours before reaching a decision. They also recommended that Garland serve three consecutive sentences, meaning he would not be eligible for parole for 75 years.
Justice David Gates is to deliver the sentence on Friday.
Gates had advised them to use common sense and to be sure of Garland’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if they wished to convict him.
The couple and the boy disappeared after an estate sale at the Liknes home, where Nathan had stayed on a sleepover.
The Crown argued during the trial that Garland stewed for years about a dispute with Alvin Liknes over a patent for an oilfield pump they had both worked on. It argued that the bloody state of the Liknes home showed Garland attacked the three there before taking them to his Calgary-area farm where he killed them.
But the defence pointed out that none of his DNA was found in the house, so there was nothing to prove he had ever been there.
The victims’ bodies were never recovered — only bone fragments, burned flesh and teeth in the ash from a burning barrel on Garland’s property. There was also ample DNA evidence found on the farm.
Jurors heard from 50 witnesses in the trial that began nearly five weeks ago and included 1,400 pieces of evidence.
Gates spent four hours giving instructions to the nine men and three women and told them they could use as much or as little of the evidence as they wanted, but not to resort to speculation.