Douglas Garland will not testify in own defence at triple murder trial

Douglas Garland will not testify in his own defence at his triple-murder trial in Calgary, jurors heard Thursday after the Crown wrapped four weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses with dramatic video of the accused being chased through a farm field at night.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers

Watch in 2x speed as Douglas Garland is chased through a field and captured by police

6 years ago
Duration 1:38
A HAWCS helicopter captured dramatic footage of Garland's second arrest.

Douglas Garland will not testify in his own defence at his triple-murder trial in Calgary, jurors heard Thursday after the Crown wrapped four weeks of testimony from dozens of witnesses with dramatic video of the accused being chased through a farm field at night.

Garland, 57, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, accused of killing Nathan O'Brien, 5, and his grandparents, Alvin, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53.

Douglas Garland is on trial for three counts of first-degree murder, accused of killing five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathy Liknes. Garland was arrested near his farm two weeks after the family members disappeared. (Court exhibit/Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Defence lawyers Kim Ross and Jim Lutz told the court Thursday that they would not be calling any evidence, so the jury was dismissed until Monday morning, when closing arguments will be made.

Crown prosecutors Shane Parker and Vicki Faulkner have called about 60 witnesses, ending with Calgary police Const. Jamie Parhar.

Parhar was a rookie street-beat officer who volunteered to help with the investigation in July 2014 after the five-year-old boy and his grandparents disappeared.

Parhar told court Thursday that she found herself tracking Garland alone after getting separated from her partner, jogging through waist-high brush in a farmer's field in the pitch black.

Earlier, Calgary police's surveillance unit had assigned nine members to follow Garland between July 11 and July 14, 2014. In the wee hours on July 14, officers tracked the murder suspect to the back side of his family's farm north of Calgary.

That night, Parhar and her partner drove to Airdrie after investigators asked for volunteers to do a traffic stop on Garland, who had been driving around the area. 

This aerial photo of the area north of the Garland farm shows the location where he was arrested on July 14, 2014. (Court exhibit)

The only radio Parhar and her partner had was tuned to an encrypted channel with surveillance officers and an officer in a HAWCS helicopter tracking Garland's movements.

Parhar and her partner tried to conduct the traffic stop but Garland drove the rental car into a farmer's field just north of where he lived, got out and took off running through the field, she told the jury.

Garland running, crawling, hiding

The police officers followed into the field and then got out of their Crown Victoria and began to follow Garland on foot.

Const. Lane Trim, a tactical officer in the HAWCS helicopter was using military quality night-vision technology to guide Parhar who had lost her partner and was, by then, following Garland by herself. She was told over the radio that Garland was running, crawling and "attempting to remain concealed."

The officer, who was then 24 years old, said she was worried about breaking an ankle in the "awful," uneven terrain.

Garland calm during arrest

The two ended up in a dense bank of trees. Though she couldn't see him, Parhar was very close to Garland as he hid in the tall bush around the tree line.

Backup officers arrived and coaxed Garland out of his hiding place and he surrendered, lying face down on the ground. Parhar moved in to handcuff him.

"[He was] very calm, very collected" said Parhar of the suspect's demeanour. "[He] had almost like that thousand-yard stare; very expressionless," she said. 

Sitting in the gallery of the courtroom, listening to his daughter testify for her first time in front of a jury, was Calgary Police Service Deputy Chief Sat Parhar. 

Earlier this week

The prosecution's theory is that the victims were attacked at the Liknes home and taken to the Garland farm, where they were killed and their bodies burned.

Earlier this week, jurors were shown photos of what appeared to be the bodies of two adults and a smaller figure, laid out near three small sheds on the farm. The photos also showed smoke coming from a burn barrel, as well as the shadow of a person standing nearby.

The images were taken by chance by an aerial-mapping plane on July 1, 2014 — the day after the three family members were discovered missing.

Two weeks after a massive search for Nathan and his grandparents began, Garland was arrested and charged.

Nathan O'Brien, 5, had been sleeping over at the home of his grandparents — Kathy Liknes, 53, and Alvin Liknes, 66 — in June 2014 when the three disappeared. (Calgary Police Service)

Garland is connected to the Liknes family through his sister, Patti Garland, who was in a common-law relationship with Alvin Liknes's son, Allen.

Patti Garland, her parents and Allen Liknes all testified earlier that Garland harboured a grudge against Alvin Liknes after a business relationship soured years earlier.

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