New Brunswick

Crown wraps up case against Dennis Oland in father's death

Crown prosecutors concluded their case against Dennis Oland Wednesday by presenting more evidence at the murder trial about DNA found on the accused's brown sports jacket that matched his father's profile with a certainty of one in 20 quintillion.

DNA extracted from accused's jacket matched Richard Oland's profile with high certainty, expert says

Dennis Oland, 47, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland. (CBC)

Crown prosecutors wrapped up their second-degree murder case Wednesday in Saint John against Dennis Oland in the 2011 slaying of his father by presenting more evidence about the certainty of the DNA on the accused's bloodstained jacket matching that of the victim.

Thomas Suzanski, a forensic scientist at the RCMP lab in Ottawa, told the court that the chances are one in 20 quintillion that the DNA extracted from three bloodstains on the brown sports jacket is not Richard Oland's.

Suzanki, who has worked for the RCMP's crime lab since 1989 and was deemed an expert by the Court of Queen's Bench, said in his opinion, the DNA came from the blood.

Thomas Suzanksi, a forensic scientist from the RCMP lab in Ottawa, found the DNA extracted from Dennis Oland's jacket matched his father's profile with a very high certainty. (CBC)
"It seems rather unlikely to me" it came from any other possible DNA source, such as saliva or sweat, he said.

The three bloodstains in question are located on the outside of the jacket — on the right sleeve, the upper left chest, and on the back, in the centre, near the hem.

Suzanski was the 44th and final Crown witness to testify at the trial, which started on Sept. 16.

The defence team will announce on Thursday morning whether it plans to present any evidence.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John investment firm office on July 7, 2011, with "hundreds" of blood-spatter stains around him.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
The multimillionaire had suffered 45 blunt and sharp 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 Canterbury Street office the night before, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and is standing trial before a judge and jury.

Oland told police during a voluntary statement on July 7 he was wearing a navy blazer when he visited his father on the night in question, but security video of him earlier that day shows he was wearing a brown jacket.

The Hugo Boss jacket, which Oland's wife Lisa took to the dry cleaners the following day, was seized from his bedroom closet on July 14.

The brown sports jacket was seized from Dennis Oland's bedroom closet on July 14, 2011, a week after his father's body was discovered. (Court exhibit)
On Tuesday, the court heard from Suzanski's former colleague, DNA scientist Joy Kearsey, who testified the chances were 1 in 510 billion that the DNA extracted from the jacket was not a match with the victim's DNA. 

Suzanski explained that Kearsey had used a program called Profiler Plus, which uses nine areas for comparison. He used a more "discriminating" program in his followup analysis in May 2015, he said. Identifiler Plus compares 15 areas and is more accurate.

The estimated probability of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the Canadian Caucasian population with the same profile is one in 20 quintillion.- Thomas Suzanski, forensic scientist

"The estimated probability of selecting an unrelated individual at random from the Canadian Caucasian population with the same profile is one in 20 quintillion," Suzanski concluded.

"Based on the RCMP Canadian Caucasian population [database], it is 3.4 million times more likely that the DNA evidence obtained would be observed if Richard Oland was the donor of the DNA obtained from [the three areas in question] rather than a full sibling," he added.

Suzanski described the samples used as being "clean," with no evidence of degradation. They produced a full, single-source DNA profile.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Alan Gold, Suzanski agreed he could not say how the DNA got on the jacket or how long it had been there.

Gold pointed out that DNA can be transferred by touch and noted some DNA found on the inside left pocket seam appears to be from a third, unknown party.

DNA extracted from three other stains on the inside cuffs had a mixed profile. The major component of the two on the right cuff matched the victim's with a probability of one in 180 million it was random, while the minor component of the stain on the left cuff matched with a probability of one in 40.

Judge instructs jury on blood tests

Earlier in the day, Judge John Walsh gave the jurors instructions on the evidence they've heard regarding the two types of tests used to check for the presence of blood.

He said preliminary tests, such as Hemastix, are not conclusive and can get false positives from a wide range of other substances, such as leather, dirt, and bodily fluids such as saliva and perspiration.

Crown prosecutors Patrick Wilbur, Derek Weaver and P.J. Veniot have called 44 witnesses in the past 11 weeks. (CBC)
Consequently, it is "very dangerous" to infer from a positive presumptive test alone that blood is, or might be present, Walsh stressed.

In situations where the RCMP lab confirmed blood was present with a secondary hemochromogen test, however, "that's evidence you can consider in your evidentiary assessment," he said.

The three stains on the accused's jacket were confirmed to be blood using the hemochromogen test, which is specific for blood and is not known to render any false positives, the court has heard.