Douglas Garland triple-murder trial wraps up first week with footwear/footprint expert testimony

Douglas Garland triple murder trial wraps up first week with footwear/footprint expert testimony
WATCH ABOVE: A Calgary court heard how accused murderer Douglas Garland was originally arrested and listened to an expert witness describe how a pair of shoes could be connected to the high-profile murder that shocked the city. Nancy Hixt reports.

WARNING: This article contains graphic content that some readers might find disturbing. Discretion is advised.

An expert in footprint identification and comparison testified on the fifth day of Douglas Garland‘s triple-murder trial, along with a homicide detective who took part in the original arrest.

Garland, 56, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathy Liknes.

Nathan, Alvin and Kathy were last seen alive June 29, 2014.

READ MORE: Police wondered if Nathan O’Brien could be hiding in Liknes home

Homicide Det. Mike Shute testified he met with Garland’s sister, Patti, on July 4, 2014. She identified the photo of the truck released by police during the Amber Alert as her brother’s. Within hours, police converged on the Airdrie farm where the suspect lived with his parents.

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Shute said when he arrived at the Garland property, he was told: “There was a burn barrel still smoldering on the farm.”

The detective testified no bodies were found, but officers found a bag with handcuffs and a billy club (baton).

Earlier on Friday, a forensic investigator with the Calgary Police Service took the jury though pictures of footprints in what court heard was blood at the Liknes’ home.

Sgt. Lynn Gallen has completed more than 4,000 crime scene investigations, including approximately 300 involving footwear/footprints.

Court heard Gallen was called to the Liknes home just after 5 p.m. June 30, 2014. She said she was given a briefing and shown several images–one of the sidewalk one of the inside of the garage.

“This case was different,” Gallen said.

“There was a sense of urgency.”

READ MORE: Expert locksmith testifies at Douglas Garland triple murder trial

Gallen specifically looked at the footwear impressions in the Liknes home.

“The footwear impressions that we were seeing appeared to be in blood,” she testified.

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Immediately they sent a photo of one of the prints to an RCMP footprint database.

Within a half hour, investigators got a match to three different shoes—including a Dr. Scholl’s Delta 2.

Court also heard police later searched the Garland residence. In the basement, they found three empty shoe boxes. One was a yellow box for the Dr. Scholl’s Delta 2 in size 13 W.

A photo from the footwear comparison presented to court at Douglas Garland’s murder trial on Jan. 20, 2017.
A photo from the footwear comparison presented to court at Douglas Garland’s murder trial on Jan. 20, 2017. Calgary Police Sgt. Gallen

Police homicide Det. Clark Budd was tasked with finding and purchasing a matching pair. Forensic investigators put black powder on the shoes and created prints with white transfer paper. At the same time, investigators used a chemical to spray the footprints at the Liknes home to highlight and make faint impressions clearer.

The chemical turned the prints purple, then Gallen said she was able to overlay the prints she created on top of the footprints in the home.

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She testified several of the prints in the home were made by a Delta 2 shoe or a shoe of similar size and shape.

Court heard police never recovered a Delta 2 shoe.

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The Crown’s theory is Garland obsessively and meticulously researched and carried out a plot to murder Alvin and Kathy Liknes, as well as their grandson, Nathan O’Brien.

It’s alleged he took the three victims to his farm and then dismembered and destroyed their bodies.

Thursday court heard from expert locksmith Monte Salway who said the lock on the side door to the Liknes home had been drilled through and disabled.

The prosecution alleges Garland researched the Schlage BE365 lock–the one the Likneses had on their side door– just days before they disappeared.

The trial is scheduled for five weeks.

Watch below: Ongoing coverage of the Douglas Garland triple murder trial 

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