Calgary

Douglas Garland, accused of killing Nathan O'Brien and grandparents, appears in court

The man charged in the deaths of Calgary residents Kathy and Alvin Liknes, and the couple's five-year-old grandson Nathan O'Brien, was in court Thursday, ahead of his triple-murder trial, which is set to begin next year.

Hearing discusses admissibility of evidence before trial next month

This sketch of accused murderer Douglas Garland was made during his court appearance in Calgary for a voir dire hearing on Dec. 1, 2016. His trial is set to begin in January 2017. (Janice Fletcher)

The man charged in the deaths of Calgary residents Kathy and Alvin Liknes, and the couple's five-year-old grandson Nathan O'Brien, was in court Thursday, ahead of his triple-murder trial, which is set to begin next year.

Douglas Garland was present for a voir dire hearing, a legal procedure in which the admissibility of evidence is discussed.

O'Brien and his grandparents disappeared in June 2014. Their bodies have never been found.

While the motive of the killings is unclear, police have confirmed they're looking into a patent dispute and other business dealings between Garland and Alvin Liknes.​

Liknes's son was also in a common-law relationship with Garland's sister.

Nathan O'Brien, centre, and his grandparents, Kathy and Alvin Liknes, were last seen alive by Nathan's mom when she left the Likneses' home the night of June 29, 2014. (Calgary Police Service)

All three murder victims were missing for two weeks before police laid murder charges. But a court document reveals investigators believe they died on June 30, the day they were reported missing by Nathan's mother.

With no bodies and likely no eyewitnesses, forensic evidence gathered at the Liknes's home, as well as the Garland property, are expected to play a prominent role in the case.

The start date for the five-week jury trial has been set for Jan. 16, 2017, with jury selection taking place the week before.