Gar­land guilty of triple mur­der

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE -


A pros­e­cu­tor says first­de­gree mur­der ver­dicts against a man who killed a cou­ple and their young grand­son be­fore dis­pos­ing of their bodies will do lit­tle to ease the fam­ily’s grief.

Dou­glas Gar­land, 57, was charged after Alvin and Kathy Lik­nes and five-year-old Nathan O’Brien dis­ap­peared in June 2014. He faces the pos­si­bil­ity of spend­ing the rest of his life in prison when he is sen­tenced Fri­day.

The vic­tims’ fam­ily wept openly as the ver­dicts were read. There was no re­ac­tion from Gar­land.

“At the end of the day, the loss of three crit­i­cal peo­ple in their fam­ily ... this de­ci­sion doesn’t change that. They still have to grieve,” Crown lawyer Shane Parker said Thurs­day.

“Vic­tims are vic­tims whether they’re fiveyear-old lit­tle boys or Kathy or Alvin,” he said. “They’re a huge loss to some­one and they’re a huge loss to the com­mu­nity as a whole.

“Who knows what Nathan would have grown up to be?”

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.

The de­fence said it was too early to say whether there would be an ap­peal.

The cou­ple and the boy dis­ap­peared after an es­tate sale at the Lik­nes home in Calgary. The Lik­ne­ses were about to move to the Ed­mon­ton area and planned to spend their win­ters in Mex­ico. Nathan was hav­ing 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.

Jen­nifer O’Brien’s par­ents and son were miss­ing.

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. Parker also told court Gar­land had fan­ta­sized about Kathy Lik­nes as ev­i­denced by pho­tos of her found in Gar­land’s deleted com­puter files.

The pros­e­cu­tion ar­gued that the bloody state of the Lik­nes home showed Gar­land at­tacked the three there and that they were still alive when he took them to his Cal­gar­yarea farm where he killed them.

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 on meat hooks and a hack saw. Gar­land’s DNA was found on rub­ber boots.

Some of the 1,400 pieces of of­ten grue­some ev­i­dence in­cluded closed­cir­cuit se­cu­rity video that showed three bodies un­der a white tarp in the back of a truck like the one Gar­land drove.

An aerial photo taken on July 1, 2014, above the farm showed di­a­per­clad bodies of two adults and a smaller body lying near a burn­ing bar­rel.

“You can still vi­su­al­ize Nathan curled up near grandma,’’ Parker told ju­rors.

There was plenty of other dis­turb­ing ev­i­dence.

Ju­rors heard Gar­land had re­searched au­top­sies and the pur­chase of au­topsy kits.

The con­tent of a file la­belled “gore’’ on his com­puter showed men and women wear­ing di­a­pers and re­strained. It in­cluded pic­tures of dis­mem­bered peo­ple. There were books about poi­sons and how to kill peo­ple.

De­fence lawyer Kim Ross ar­gued that there was no proof Gar­land was at the Lik­nes home, no way to iden­tify him as the driver of the truck nor any proof that the three vic­tims left the home alive.

“There’s not one drop of blood. There’s not one strand of hair. There’s not one fin­ger­print. There’s not one skin cell. There’s no saliva. There’s noth­ing. There’s no DNA of Mr. Gar­land in that res­i­dence,’’ Ross said dur­ing clos­ing ar­gu­ments.

The only con­clu­sion, he said, was that Gar­land wasn’t re­spon­si­ble for the deaths.

The three women and nine men on the jury dis­agreed.

“There’s just no win­ners in any of this, no good way to come out of this and have a pos­i­tive spin on it,” Jim Lutz, one of Gar­land’s other lawyers, told re­porters after the ver­dicts.

“Every­body ... re­ally has lost in this one.”


Nathan O’Brien and his grand­par­ents Kathy and Alvin Lik­nes are shown in Calgary Po­lice Ser­vice hand­out pho­tos. Dou­glas Gar­land, ac­cused of killing the Calgary cou­ple and their grand­son, has been found guilty on three counts of first-de­gree mur­der.

Dou­glas Gar­land

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