Douglas Garland arrested more than 2 weeks after couple, grandson disappeared
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CALGARY — Douglas Garland, 57, was found guilty Thursday on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their grandson Nathan O'Brien. Here's a timeline of the case:
June 29, 2014: Alvin and Kathy Liknes hold an estate sale at their Calgary home before a planned move to the Edmonton area. They are helped out by Kathy's daughter, Jennifer O'Brien, who is also Nathan's mother. The five-year-old boy stays with his grandparents on an impromptu sleepover.
June 30, 2014: O'Brien arrives to pick Nathan up. She finds pools of blood and footprints but no bodies. She calls police who issue an Amber Alert for the boy.
July 1, 2014: Police express interest in speaking to anyone who attended the estate sale.
July 2, 2014: Nathan’s parents, Rod and Jennifer O’Brien, issue a nationally televised plea for their son’s safe return.
July 3, 2014: Police say footage from nearby closed-circuit televisions, as well as tips from the public, has moved the investigation along, but decline to provide details.
July 4, 2014: Police confirm that a violent encounter took place at the Liknes home. They say they have recovered forensic evidence. They also release images of a green Ford pickup truck and say they believed the unidentified driver may have some information. Garland's sister, Patti Garland, recognizes the vehicle and notifies police.
July 5, 2014: Calgary police and RCMP descend on a property near Airdrie, Alta., just north of Calgary. Police recover the green truck and take in Douglas Garland for questioning.
July 6, 2014: Garland is publicly declared a person of interest.
July 7, 2014: Garland appears in a Calgary court on an identity theft charge unrelated to the disappearance. He is held in police custody pending a bail review. Rod O’Brien says outside the courthouse that there is a connection between Garland and the family, but doesn't elaborate.
July 9, 2014: Police expand their search to a landfill northwest of Calgary. They also confirm that Garland’s sister is in a relationship with a member of the Liknes family, and that the Airdrie property belongs to Douglas Garland's parents.
July 10, 2014: Police say they are probing business dealings by the Liknes family. About 500 people attend a candlelight vigil at a community centre near the Liknes home.
July 11, 2014: Garland is released from police custody on bail and given strict conditions, including instructions not to return to the Airdrie farm where police are still searching.
July 12, 2014: Police return to the Liknes home to conduct more searches even as they continue to sweep the Airdrie property and local landfills.
July 13, 2014: Police conclude searching the Liknes home but say the investigation continues at the Airdrie property and local landfills. Garland is placed under surveillance
July 14, 2014: Police using a helicopter arrest Garland, who tries to evade arrest on his parents' property.
July 15, 2014: Calgary police announce Garland had been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of the Likneses and second-degree murder in the death of Nathan. That charge is later upgraded to first-degree murder.
May 19, 2015: Preliminary inquiry begins for Garland.
May 27, 2015: Judge rules there is enough evidence for Garland to stand trial on three counts of first-degree murder.
Jan. 11, 2017: Court brings in nearly 500 prospective jurors for the Garland trial. Fourteen are chosen.
Jan. 16: Trial begins. Over the next four weeks, the Crown calls 50 witnesses and introduces 1,400 pieces of evidence.
Feb. 9: The final witnesses testify for the Crown. Defence calls no witnesses. Justice David Gates sympathizes with jurors over the "great, personal stress" they have endured due to the disturbing evidence introduced.
Feb. 13: Crown and defence give closing arguments. Prosecutor Shane Parker says evidence is circumstantial, but leaves no doubt that "this was a very deliberate murder" by a man who had "stewed" for years over a business dispute with Alvin Liknes. "He neither forgave nor forgot."
Defence lawyer Kim Ross says there is no evidence to prove Garland was at the Liknes house or drove the truck seen on video near the home. "There's not one drop of blood. There's not one strand of hair. There's not one fingerprint. There's not one skin cell," the defender tells the jury. "There's no DNA of Mr. Garland in that residence."
Feb. 15: Gates delivers his charge to jurors, telling them to use common sense and that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt if they wish to convict. "Sympathy can have no place in your deliberations. Speculation is guessing or making things up," Gates told the jurors. Deliberations begin at 5:13 p.m.
Feb. 16: Jury returns three guilty verdicts after deliberating between eight and nine hours. Recommends Garland serve sentences consecutively, meaning he would not be eligible for parole for 75 years.