Guilty ver­dict in killing of Cal­gary cou­ple, grand­son

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - BILL GRAVELAND

CAL­GARY — A pros­e­cu­tor says first-de­gree 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 Cal­gary-area farm where he killed them.

There was plenty of other dis­turb­ing ev­i­dence.

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.

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.”

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