A panel of three Alberta Court of Appeal Justices reserved ruling on the appeal of convicted triple-murderer Douglas Garland on Thursday.
Garland, 59, is seeking to have his convictions overturned and to have a new trial or be convicted for lesser offences.
In February 2017, a jury found Garland guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathy Liknes.
Garland violently attacked the three victims in the Liknes home in southwest Calgary.
He took them to the Garland farm in Airdrie where they were tortured, killed and dismembered.
Police investigators gathered graphic evidence from the farm, where Garland lived with his parents.
Their bodies were destroyed, but DNA of each of the victims was found at the property.
Garland was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years.
Garland’s defence filed the appeal in March 2017, citing several grounds of appeal — many include issues surrounding the original search of the Garland farm.
At that time, police were still trying to locate Nathan and his grandparents and did not have a warrant.
The defence argued Garland’s constitutional rights were violated.
“There was no history of violence whatsoever,” Alias Sanders told the appeal justices.
“What’s lacking was the absence of some kind of reason to believe there’s something going on at the farm that would connect to the people,” Sanders argued.
Justice Peter Martin questioned Sanders about several of her arguments, pointing out there was evidence of a violent confrontation at the Liknes home and evidence the victims had been taken away.
Martin also reminded the defence that police had specifically looked at people who might have a grudge against the victims in this case, including Garland.
The defence suggested the jury was also prejudiced by comments made by the original trial judge, Justice David Gates, about the difficult evidence that was being presented.
“The judge is a human being and so is the jury,” Justice Peter Costigan responded.
Two Crown prosecutors, Christine Rideout and Sarah Clive, argued Garland’s convictions should stand.
The Crown argued police had reasonable grounds to search the farm, pointing to the long-standing grudge Garland harboured against Liknes.
“Clearly this appellant had a connection to Liknes,” Rideout told the court.
Garland’s sister was married to Alvin Liknes’ son and Garland had been involved in a business dispute with Liknes several years earlier.
The Crown said Garland had accused Liknes of stealing property from his farm, an issue his sister told police he brought up the week before the three were killed.
Rideout also said all of the police investigators’ beliefs were “backed up by the scene at the victims’ residence.”
The decision by the Alberta Court of Appeal will be handed down at a later date.
A separate sentence appeal has been filed by Garland’s defence.