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Douglas Garland‘s triple-murder trial began Thursday with cross-examination of the key forensic investigator in the case, Const. Ian Oxton, and later involved testimony from a former neighbour of the farm.
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.
Defence lawyer Kim Ross asked Oxton about results of testing of the Liknes’ home.
“No blood, no hair, no fingerprints…nothing?” Ross asked Oxton.
Oxton confirmed no DNA of Garland was found in the home.
Ross also went through a number of items seized from the farm, including various weapons and handcuffs, and asked about fingerprinting. Oxton said the items in question were not tested for fingerprints and confirmed it is not clear who owned or placed the items on the farm.
Court heard the straitjacket found in the Garland basement was sent for DNA testing and came back as Garland’s own DNA.
Oxton also testified many items were not sent away for testing, including the Tyvek white jumpsuit and adult diapers found on the farm.
When questioned by Ross, Oxton said there was no officer maintaining continuity of the Garland property—specifically the burn barrel or fire pit—between July 2014 and March 2015.
Court previously heard the barrel and ashes were seized in the secondary search of the property in spring of 2015.
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Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathy Liknes were last seen alive June 29, 2014.
Just days later, early on the morning of July 2, 2014, a neighbour who lives to the south of the Garland property testified he saw a light on in the Garland greenhouse.
Brian Kalmbach told court he had a clear view of the neighbouring farm.
He said later that same day he “noticed a fire on the property…in the burning barrel area.”
Kalmbach testified there was a lot of black smoke rising from the burn site.
The Crown’s theory is Garland violently removed the trio from their beds and took them to his parents farm, where they were killed and their bodies were destroyed.
Court also heard more about the extensive forensic search of the farm, including a discovery in the basement of the Garland home.
Const. Kyle Lees of the RCMP STO (Special Tactical Operations) team said he found a hard drive and some documents hidden away in the rafters above the furnace room.
In the Crown’s opening statement, the prosecution said the hard drive contained evidence of research about Alvin, Kathy, their estate sale, as well as torture and lock-picking.
On the ninth day of testimony, court also heard preliminary testing of the green Ford F-150 truck used by Garland showed evidence of blood in several areas of the vehicle. Swabs were taken and sent for DNA testing.
The trial will take a break Friday, with testimony to resume Monday, Jan. 30.
Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of Douglas Garland’s murder trial