‘Use your com­mon sense’: Judge ad­vises jury at Cal­gary triple-mur­der trial

Medicine Hat News - - WEST -

CAL­GARY The judge in a triple-mur­der trial ad­vised ju­rors Wed­nes­day to use com­mon sense and re­minded them that the ac­cused’s guilt must be proven be­yond a rea­son­able doubt if they wish to con­vict him.

The charge to the jury is the last step be­fore de­lib­er­a­tions be­gin in the trial of Dou­glas Gar­land. The 57year-old is charged with three counts of first-de­gree mur­der in the deaths of Alvin and Kathy Lik­nes and their five-year-old grand­son Nathan O’Brien.

Jus­tice David Gates told ju­rors they can use as much or as lit­tle of the ev­i­dence as they want from four weeks of tes­ti­mony, but not to re­sort to spec­u­la­tion.

“Sym­pa­thy can have no place in your de­lib­er­a­tions. Spec­u­la­tion is guess­ing or mak­ing things up,” said Gates in his lengthy in­struc­tions.

“You may rely on the ex­hibits as much or as lit­tle as you see fit. Use your com­mon sense or ex­pe­ri­ence. If you are not sure Mr. Gar­land com­mit­ted the of­fences ... then you must give the ben­e­fit of the doubt to him and find him not guilty,” he said.

“It is not enough for you to be­lieve an ac­cused is prob­a­bly or even likely guilty.”

Gates said the Crown doesn’t have to prove guilt with an “ab­so­lute cer­tainty” but it has to be be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.

“Mr. Gar­land doesn’t have to prove any­thing.”

Gar­land was charged af­ter the cou­ple and their grand­son dis­ap­peared from the cou­ple’s Cal­gary home on June 30, 2014. Their bod­ies were never re­cov­ered — only bone frag­ments, burned flesh and teeth in the ash from a burn­ing bar­rel on Gar­land’s farm. There was also am­ple DNA ev­i­dence re­cov­ered at the prop­erty.

“You can come to the con­clu­sion that these three in­di­vid­u­als are dead,” said Gates.

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 judge noted that mo­tive is not an es­sen­tial el­e­ment the Crown must prove.

Gates also warned the jury not to place too much weight on In­ter­net searches found on a hid­den hard drive from Gar­land com­puter or on books found that were found at the farm.

The hard drive con­tained ar­ti­cles on how to do au­top­sies and dis­pose of the dead. There were also nu­mer­ous pho­tos of dead and dis­mem­bered bod­ies. The books were on poi­sons and ways of killing.

“You may not in­fer from the ev­i­dence, or how un­pleas­ant you may find it, or how­ever much you may dis­ap­prove of Mr. Gar­land’s al­leged In­ter­net browsing choices that Mr. Gar­land is a per­son of bad char­ac­ter and likely would have com­mit­ted the of­fences charged,” Gates said.

“You are here to de­cide if the Crown has proved, be­yond a rea­son­able doubt, the of­fences charged in the in­dict­ment ... noth­ing more, noth­ing less.”

Dou­glas Gar­land

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