The man accused of killing five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents, Kathy and Alvin Liknes, made a brief court appearance in Calgary Thursday morning via closed-circuit TV.  

Douglas Garland, 54, was charged last month with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.

The boy and his grandparents disappeared at the end of June from a house in southwest Calgary. Their bodies have not been recovered.

Garland said nothing as Crown lawyers told the judge there is still a substantial amount of evidence to be disclosed to defence counsel.

The case was put over again until Sept. 17.

Douglas Garland

Douglas Garland, charged with murder in the disappearance of a Calgary boy and his grandparents, appeared in court Thursday via closed-circuit TV. (CBC)

Crown prosecutor Shane Parker said a preliminary hearing is still about six to eight months away. In the meantime, the prosecution is trying to keep the victims' families informed.

"It's critical just from a human standpoint, making sure they understand what's happening," he said. "It's a confusing time on so many levels for them and if we can help them, explain the court process, then that's helpful."

Trust fund set up for family

Garland last appeared in court via video link on July 16, at which time the case was adjourned until today because Crown prosecutors were still waiting for police evidence disclosure.

Garland, whose sister is in a common-law relationship with Alvin Liknes’s son, was arrested on July 14 following an extensive search of a property north of Calgary that is owned by Garland's parents.

CBC News learned there were soured business dealings between Garland and Alvin Liknes, including a patent dispute.

Cherri Hodgins, a close friend of Kathy Liknes, said a trust fund has been established to help the family.

"The family is in pieces, nobody is working and nobody can get back to normalcy, whatever normalcy means to us at this point. But it's going to take a long time for us to recover," she said.

Donations to the O'Brien Fund can be made at CIBC branches across the country.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the case was put over because Crown lawyers told a judge they are awaiting evidence to be disclosed by Calgary police. In fact, Crown lawyers are now in the process of disclosing that information to the defence team, but have not yet finished doing so.
    Aug 14, 2014 10:58 AM MT