Guilty verdict in Calgary triple-murder case, consecutive sentences recommended

CALGARY — A man accused of killing a Calgary couple and their grandson has been found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder.

Douglas Garland, who is 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 verdict was read. There was no reaction from Garland.

Jurors deliberated between eight and nine hours before reaching a decision. They also recommended to the judge that Garland serve three consecutive sentences, meaning he would not be eligible for parole for 75 years.

Justice David 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.

The Crown argued there was enough evidence to show Garland attacked the three in the home before taking them to his Calgary-area farm where he killed them, but the defence said there was no DNA evidence to prove he was ever in the house.

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 recovered at the farm.

The 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.

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