There are many issues that need to be resolved in the retrial of accused murderer Dennis Oland before a date can even be set for it, the judge says.
Crown prosecutors and lawyers for Oland appeared in a New Brunswick court Tuesday for a hearing to set a date, but the judge put off determining when the trial will be held.
Oland is charged in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his multimillionaire father, Richard Oland, who was found face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.
“It seems to me there are a number of factors which are going to have an impact on when this trial starts,” Judge Terrence Morrison told the lawyers.
“Some of them include the number of Crown witnesses, an estimated schedule of their testimony, voir dires concerning admissibility of evidence – how many of them will there be and how long they are going to take, and if there are going to be any pre-trial or charter motions,” he said.
“It seems to me, until these issues are fleshed out in some detail, it’s going to be very difficult to set a trial date that has any hope of being realistic,” Morrison said.
Oland lawyer Gary Miller and Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot agreed.
Morrison has given the lawyers until Oct. 26 to make their submissions to him, and set Nov. 2 for the lawyers to meet with him again in Saint John for a pre-trial conference.
He said they’ll be able to set a trial date after that.
Oland’s first trial lasted 65 days, and court documents indicate the retrial could last just as long.
Oland was in court Tuesday, but quickly left the courthouse afterwards and made no comment.
His lawyers also declined comment, but when asked if he thought the new trial would be in 2018, Alan Gold said “yes.”
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An autopsy showed Richard Oland suffered 45 sharp and blunt force blows to his head, neck and hands. A murder weapon was never found.
During the first trial, the court heard Dennis Oland had visited his father’s office the night before the body was discovered and was the last known person to see him alive.
Oland was convicted in 2015, but was released on bail last October when the New Brunswick Court of Appeal ordered a new trial, citing an error in the judge’s instructions to the jury.
Dennis Oland had told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he visited his father that evening, but witnesses and video evidence showed him wearing a brown Hugo Boss jacket that was later found to have tiny traces of blood and DNA that matched his father’s profile.
The Crown portrayed Oland’s original statement about the jacket as an intentional lie, while the defence said it was an honest mistake. The appeal court said the trial judge did not properly instruct the jurors as to the probative value of that statement.
In July, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an application by the Crown to restore the conviction, and a cross-appeal seeking an acquittal.
The new trial date was originally supposed to be set last month, but Oland’s lawyers and the Crown said then there were matters they needed to iron out.