New Brunswick

Dennis Oland's defence abruptly closes case in murder trial

Dennis Oland's defence team abruptly closed its case on Thursday at his second-degree murder trial in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland.

Defence lawyer Gary Miller announces 'no need to call any other evidence'

Dennis Oland, 47, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)

Dennis Oland's defence team abruptly closed its case on Thursday at his second-degree murder trial in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland.

The accused's fate could be in the jury's hands as early as Dec. 16.

The defence sees "no need to call any other evidence," lawyer Gary Miller announced to the Saint John Court of Queen's Bench.

The surprise decision follows Oland's testimony in his own defence on Tuesday and Wednesday. He told the packed courtroom he did not kill his father, and that he loved him.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Oland's mother, Connie, sister, Jacqueline Walsh, wife, Lisa Andrik-Oland, uncle, Jack Connell, and friend Mary Beth Watt were all expected to testify on his behalf.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered in his uptown Saint John office on July 7, 2011, lying face down in a pool of blood. The multimillionaire had suffered 45 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head, neck and hands. No weapon was ever found.

Dennis Oland, 47, who was the last known person to see his father alive, during a meeting at his investment firm office the night before, has been standing trial before a judge and jury since Sept. 16.

The defence ended up calling only two other witnesses — a bloodstain analyst and a forensic computer expert.

Jurors face 'tough task'

Judge John Walsh dismissed the jurors until Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. AT. 

He said the lawyers need time to prepare their closing arguments in the high-profile case and he needs time to prepare his instructions to the jury.

It's been a "very long" trial, with a "mass of evidentiary detail," during the past 47 days, including testimony from nearly 50 witnesses, said Walsh.

"I told you at the outset, I don't blow smoke. I don't gild the lily, so to speak," he said. "My charge will be long," possibly up to two days.

With the holiday season coming, if you have any decorating to do, or Christmas baking, or other arrangements, get all of that done.–Judge John Walsh

Walsh said he also has some legal decisions to make in the interim, which will guide the lawyers on what they can and can't say during their closing arguments.

The judge urged the jurors to make good use of their week off.

"With the holiday season coming, if you have any decorating to do, or Christmas baking, or other arrangements, get all of that done," he said.

They should also get some rest before deliberations begin, he advised.

"You will find it will be tough duty. It's a tough task," said Walsh.

It will be "mentally exhausting" and "emotionally draining," he said.

1 juror will be dismissed

Once deliberations begin, the jurors will be sequestered, "cut off from the world," until they reach a unanimous verdict.
Court of Queen's Bench Judge John Walsh warned the jurors deliberations will be 'mentally exhausting' and 'emotionally draining.' (Andrew Robson)

Only 12 of the 13 jurors will deliberate. One of them will be eliminated by a random draw, Walsh has said.

The extra juror was in place as a precaution, given the length of the trial, in case anyone got sick or had some other emergency that would prevent them from being able to serve.

The judge reminded the jurors as they left the courtroom on Thursday to avoid all media reports.

'Mistaken' about jacket

Oland testified on Wednesday that he "absolutely" loved his father and fought back tears when he said he misses him.
Dennis Oland fought back tears as he testified on Wednesday about how he loved his father and misses him. (Andrew Robson)

He also acknowledged there are inconsistencies between his testimony and what he told Saint John police in a statement on July 7, 2011.

Oland said he was "nervous, in shock and sad" at the time of the statement, having just learned of his father's death, and remembers his comings and goings more clearly now.

Among those inconsistencies, Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he visited his father on the night in question, but video surveillance and witness testimony showed he was actually wearing a brown sports jacket.

A brown sports jacket seized from Dennis Oland's bedroom closet had three bloodstains on it. The DNA extracted from those areas matched his father's. (Court exhibit)
Oland testified he was "mistaken" about what clothes he was wearing.

The brown Hugo Boss jacket, which was taken to the dry cleaners the day after police told Oland he was a suspect in his father's death, and was subsequently seized from his bedroom closet, had three small bloodstains on it — on the right sleeve, upper left chest and on the back.

The DNA extracted from those stains matched his father's DNA profile, the trial has heard.

Oland also told police he went to his father's office twice on the night in question to discuss family genealogy, but said during his testimony he actually went there three times. The third trip was to retrieve a camp logbook he was supposed to return to his uncle, he said.

The Crown has suggested Oland's financial problems and his father's extramarital affair were possible motives in the slaying.

Under questioning by his lawyer, Oland said he didn't discuss either of those issues with his father during their meeting.

The trial, which was originally scheduled to run until Dec. 18, is one of the longest criminal trials in New Brunswick history.