Douglas Garland asks Alberta Court of Appeal to overturn triple murder conviction
Douglas Garland has asked Alberta’s highest court to overturn his convictions and sentence on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a five-year-old Calgary boy and his grandparents.
Lawyers Kim Ross, Jim Lutz and Alias Sanders filed the notice of appeal at the Alberta Court of Appeal on Friday. No other paperwork has been filed.
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Garland was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years after a jury found him guilty of murder last month for killing Nathan O’Brien, 5, and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathy Liknes.
On several occasions during Garland’s trial, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Gates addressed his concerns jurors would be disturbed by the evidence and suggested several ways to deal with the stress including yoga, getting the proper amount of sleep and journaling. Garland’s appeal argues the trial judge overemphasized the graphic nature of the evidence.
“The trial judge’s comments to the jury about coping with disturbing evidence reflected bias, was prejudicial to the defence’s case and undermined the presumption of innocence,” reads the document.
The notice of appeal argues Garland’s sentence of three consecutive parole ineligibilities is “excessive and harsh” and says the victim impact statements “exceeded the scope” of what is allowed according to the Criminal Code.
Garland is also appealing on the grounds that the judge should not have allowed evidence to go before the jury that had been gathered from the Airdrie farm where he lived with his parents. Ross and Lutz had argued before the trial that police didn’t have a proper search warrant to gather that evidence.
Prosecutors believe the three family members were taken from the Liknes’s home on June 29, 2014, then killed on the Garland farm, north of Calgary.
The Crown believes Garland burned the bodies.
During the trial, jurors heard evidence Garland was motivated by a grudge over a business relationship with Alvin Liknes that had soured years before.
The boy happened to be at his grandparents’ home for an impromptu sleepover the night Garland executed his plan to kill the Likneses.
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Since he was convicted, Garland has been attacked twice by inmates; once at the Calgary Remand Centre just hours after he was sentenced and again, hours after he was transferred to the Edmonton Institution.
He is back at the Edmonton prison after spending several days in hospital.
A panel of judges will hear arguments on Garland’s appeal at a later date which hasn’t yet been set.