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Guilty verdict in triple murder

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CALGARY—A prosecutor says first-degree murder verdicts against a man who killed a couple and their young grandson before disposing of their bodies will do little to ease the family's grief.

Douglas Garland, 57, was charged after Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O'Brien disappeared in June, 2014.

He faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced today.

The victims' family wept openly as the verdicts were read. There was no reaction from Garland.

“At the end of the day, the loss of three critical people in their family . . . this decision doesn't change that. They still have to grieve,” Crown lawyer Shane Parker said yesterday.

“Victims are victims whether they're five-year-old little boys or Kathy or Alvin,” he noted.

"They're a huge loss to someone and they're a huge loss to the community as a whole.

“Who knows what Nathan would have grown up to be?”

Jurors deliberated between eight and nine hours before reaching a decision.

They also recommended that Garland serve three consecutive sentences, meaning he would not be eligible for parole for 75 years.

The defence said it was too early to say whether there would be an appeal.

The couple and the boy disappeared after an estate sale at the Liknes home in Calgary. The Likneses were about to move to the Edmonton area and planned to spend their winters in Mexico.

Nathan was having a sleepover with his grandparents.

When his mother arrived the next morning to pick him up, she found a house with blood pooling on the floors and spattered around rooms. A child's bloody handprint was on the wall.

Jennifer O'Brien's parents and son were missing.

The Crown argued Garland had stewed for years over a dispute with Alvin Liknes about a patent for an oilfield pump they had both worked on.

The prosecution argued the bloody state of the Liknes home showed Garland attacked the three there and that they were still alive when he took them to his Calgary-area farm where he killed them.

The victims' bodies were never recovered—only bone fragments, burned flesh, and teeth in the ash from a burning barrel on Garland's property.

There also was ample DNA evidence on meat hooks and a hack saw.

Garland's DNA was found on rubber boots.

An aerial photo taken on July 1, 2014 above the farm showed diaper-clad bodies of two adults and a smaller body lying near a burning barrel.

"You can still visualize Nathan curled up near grandma,'' Parker told jurors.

Defence lawyer Kim Ross argued there was no proof Garland was at the Liknes home, no way to identify him as the driver of the truck, nor any proof the three victims left the home alive.

“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. There's no saliva,” Ross said during closing arguments.

“There's nothing. There's no DNA of Mr. Garland in that residence.”

The only conclusion, he said, was that Garland wasn't responsible for the deaths.

The three women and nine men on the jury disagreed.

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