News / Calgary

Judge instructs Garland jurors on law and role of jury prior to deliberations

Jurors will remain sequestered until a verdict in the trial is reached

The jurors in the murder trial against Douglas Garland have now received instructions from the judge and will begin deliberations Wednesday afternoon.

CP File

The jurors in the murder trial against Douglas Garland have now received instructions from the judge and will begin deliberations Wednesday afternoon.

Justice David Gates, presiding over the Douglas Garland triple-murder case, spent Wednesday morning instructing jurors on how to interpret the law and how to best use the evidence before them when making their decision.

Douglas Garland, 57, is accused of first-degree murder in the 2014 deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson, Nathan O’Brien who had stayed for an impromptu sleepover the night of June 29, 2014.

Gates began by telling the jurors that he was instructing them in an effort to help them reach a decision—not to make a decision for them.

“You’re the sole judges of the evidence and the facts arising from that evidence,” he said. “Public opinion, media reports and comments by others have no role in your decision.”

Justice David Gates told jurors he is there to help them arrive at a decision, but not to make the decision for them.

Courtesy Calgary Courts

Justice David Gates told jurors he is there to help them arrive at a decision, but not to make the decision for them.

Gates told the jurors that “sympathy can have no place” in their deliberations, and that jurors are to rely on the testimony from the 48 witnesses and 89 exhibits presented to them over the last five weeks of the trial.

“It is also your opinion of the evidence that counts, not the Crown, defence or me...you are the judges of the facts,” he said.

The judge told the jurors that opening and closing statements made by both the Crown and the defence are not to be considered as evidence, and that they should not speculate when making their decision.

“Do not permit yourself to guess or make up theories,” he said.

When they reach a decision, Gates told the jurors they won’t feel like they know everything that happened in this case.

“The evidence doesn't have to answer every question raised in this case…It’d be unusual to know everything,” he said.

Gates told the jurors the presumption of innocence is vital to our democracy and legal process, and that they must come to their decision “beyond reasonable doubt.”

“Proof of probably or likely doubt is not enough. If that is where you land you must find him not guilty,” said the judge.

Provided to the jurors by Justice Gates was what he called “decision trees,” indicating they had questions that must be answered to lead them to a verdict of either guilty or not guilty of: first-degree murder, second degree murder or manslaughter.

Gates also urged the jurors to use their “collective common sense” when analyzing the evidence and testimonies from witnesses—and that they can accept as much or as little of the evidence and testimonies as they see fit.

“Your duty is to consider all the evidence you accept…and determine if guilt has been established by the Crown beyond reasonable doubt.”

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