It’s been a long two and a half years for the families of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O’Brien, but now they have the verdict they were hoping for.
Douglas Garland has been found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, after the trio went missing from the Liknes home in June 2014 and their bodies were never recovered.
It was almost completely silent in the 12th floor courtroom before Garland, Judge David Gates and the jury were brought in Thursday afternoon, but the loved ones of the victims let out cries and tears after the verdicts were read, with Nathan’s parents in the front row.
The Crown’s Shane Parker said he and co-prosecutor Vicki Faulkner put in the best effort they could.
“We sure didn’t want to let the community or the family down,” he said. “We wanted to seek justice, we wanted to make sure that we were able to do this the right way and we feel that it was the case.”
Crown Prosecutor Shane Parker.
As the families cried in the gallery of the 12th floor courtroom, Garland remained emotionless in the prisoners box, as he has throughout the trial.
The decision came after four weeks of testimony, which included sometimes graphic and disturbing evidence.
The Crown argued Garland broke into the Liknes home in the early morning of June 30, 2014, intending to kill the Liknes’ and integrated O’Brien into the crime when he found him inside.
They say he attacked them there, brought them alive to the Garland’s Airdrie farm, killed them and then burned the bodies.
Parker spoke to the families after the verdict.
“They’re numb, they’re still processing,” he said. “At the end of the day, they have lost Kathy, they’ve lost Alvin and they’ve lost Nathan and the court process is working for different reasons than what their grief is going to allow.”
“Who knows what Nathan would have grown up to be. But we do know that Alvin was a great contributing member to society. Kathy was a grandmother, she was a contributing member to lots of extended family.It doesn’t matter who the deceased is, their impact is felt.”
Defence lawyer Jim Lutz said he thought there was more evidence to consider.
“It’s always a hard case for the jury to think about when they’re dealing with a young child and a family always, everyone appreciates that,” he said. “But you know, it’s a question of weighing the evidence and deciding what does and doesn’t prove the offences.”
“I guess I’m disappointed they didn’t turn out that way, that they look at the evidence to say look, these are issues that are really raised for them to think about, showing that this is perhaps a case where reasonable doubt should’ve applied.”
On Friday, the court will hold a sentencing hearing to determine Garland’s parole ineligibility, after five victim impact statements are read.
A first-degree murder conviction carries life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years and since there’s three convictions, Judge David Gates will decide whether the ineligibilities will be served consecutively or concurrently.
The defence also said they would take time overnight to think about whether or not to appeal.
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