Douglas Garland is appealing his convictions of first-degree murder in the deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O’Brien in 2014. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Court to hear man’s appeal of convictions in deaths of Calgary couple, grandson

CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal is to hear arguments today from lawyers for a man sentenced to life in prison for killing a couple and their grandson.

Douglas Garland is appealing his convictions of first-degree murder in the deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O’Brien in 2014.

Garland, 59, is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 75 years.

Justice David Gates said during sentencing that Garland attacked the three victims in the Liknes home in Calgary, then took them to his farm, where he killed and dismembered them, burning their remains.

Garland’s lawyers say one of the 10 grounds for the appeal is that the judge didn’t exclude evidence found on the farm at the jury trial.

The notice of appeal says Garland is seeking a new trial or a conviction on a lesser offence.

Other grounds for appeal included in the document include concerns about comments the judge made to the jury.

“The trial judge’s comments to the jury about coping with disturbing evidence reflected bias, was prejudicial to the defence case and undermined the presumption of innocence,” the appeal notice reads.

Defence lawyers also argue the consecutive period of parole ineligibility is excessive and harsh in the circumstances.

The couple and the boy disappeared after a weekend estate sale at the Liknes home. The couple was about to move to the Edmonton area and planned to spend winters in Mexico. Nathan was on a sleepover with his grandparents.

When his mother arrived the next morning to pick him up, she found a house with blood pooling on the floors and spattered around rooms. A child’s bloody handprint was on the wall.

The Crown argued that Garland had stewed for years over a dispute with Alvin Liknes about a patent for an oilfield pump they had both worked on and had fantasized about Kathy Liknes as evidenced by photos of her found in Garland’s deleted computer files.

The victims’ bodies were never recovered. Bone fragments, burned flesh and teeth were found in the ash from a burning barrel on Garland’s property.

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