New Brunswick

Dennis Oland murder trial sees brown jacket, blood, DNA submitted

A key piece of evidence in the Crown's case against Dennis Oland in the 2011 death of his father was submitted as an exhibit at his second-degree murder trial on Monday, when a juror was also discharged.

Juror No. 7 discharged after an association with someone involved in case comes to light

Dennis Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he went to visit his father on July 6, 2011, but video surveillance shows he was wearing a brown sports jacket that day, the jury has heard. (Court exhibit)

The Saint John Police Force gathered more than 564 pieces of evidence in the 2011 death of Richard Oland, the head of the forensic identification unit testified Monday at Dennis Oland's second-degree murder trial.

Sgt. Mark Smith submitted several of those items as exhibits, including a key piece of evidence in the Crown's case against Dennis Oland — a brown sports jacket seized from his bedroom closet a week after his father's bludgeoned body was discovered in his uptown office.

P.J. Veniot, the lead Crown prosecutor, previously told the court during his opening statement to the jury that the jacket, which had been dry cleaned, had four areas of blood on it and the DNA profile matched that of Richard Oland.

Police believe Dennis Oland, 47, was wearing the jacket the day his father was killed, based on video surveillance of him earlier in the day, as well as a statement from the victim's secretary, Maureen Adamson.

The accused, who is the last known person to see his father alive during a visit at his office on July 6, 2011, around 5:30 p.m., told police he was wearing a navy blazer at the time.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
Police drove the seized brown jacket to the RCMP forensics lab in Halifax on Nov. 30, 2011, for analysis, said Smith. The jacket was returned eight months later, on July 30, 2012, he said.

Smith testified last Friday that the RCMP labs in Halifax and Fredericton had limited the number of exhibits the Saint John police could submit and that investigators had to wait for all of results to come back before sending any more.

The jacket was part of the eleventh submission to the RCMP, Smith told the court on Monday. It, like other exhibits, was carefully catalogued and secured to prevent any mixups or tampering, the court heard as Smith explained the complex process for the jury.

Some of the exhibits have been kept in a police freezer or refrigerator to preserve them, said Smith, who wore blue latex gloves to handle the ones labelled as biohazards.

Sgt. Mark Smith, the head of the Saint John Police Force's forensic identification unit, was on the stand for a third day on Monday. (Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon/CBC)
Vials containing DNA extracted from clippings of the jacket were also submitted as exhibits, along with known DNA samples for both the victim and accused.

Richard Oland's body was discovered lying face down in a pool of blood in his investment firm office on July 7, 2011, with hundreds of blood spatter stains around him, some as far as nine feet away.

The prominent businessman had suffered 40 sharp and blunt force injuries to his head and neck, as well as six defensive wounds to his hands.

"The injuries were completely through his skull in some places," Smith has said.

The defence contends the killer would have had blood on him or her because the slaying was "up front and close with a lot of blood flying through the air."

Bathroom sink tested positive for blood

Smith told the court Monday that a swab of the sink of the bathroom located in the foyer outside Richard Oland's second-floor office at 52 Canterbury St., had tested positive for blood during a preliminary test.

The swab, which turned "greenish-blue" when a chemical called leucomalachite (LMG) was applied, was sent away to the RCMP for further analysis and submitted as an exhibit.

Dennis Oland, 47, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, Richard Oland. (CBC)
The jury heard last week that a paper towel seized from the garbage can in that bathroom had also indicated the possible presence of blood and was later tested by the RCMP.

Smith did not discuss any of the findings on Monday, which was his third day of testimony. The Crown will call DNA experts to testify later in the trial, the courtroom heard.

DNA samples from other people, some of which were obtained surreptitiously, were also marked as exhibits in the trial.

Among them were "castoff" samples for Derek Oland, who is Richard Oland's brother and the executive chairman of Moosehead Breweries. The samples were obtained from a fork and drinking glass from the Bourbon Quarter restaurant in Saint John, said Smith.

Similarly, police seized a straw used by Bob McFadden, who also worked at Oland's office, was co-executor of his will and ended up taking over as president of the Far End Corporation. The straw was obtained from East Side Mario's, Smith said.

A consent DNA sample was also obtained from McFadden's son, Galen, he said.

Smith did not explain on Monday why the other DNA samples were obtained. 

iPhone cable was tested

The USB cord for Richard Oland's iPhone is another exhibit in the case.

Smith said he tested it for fingerprints, but couldn't get enough detail. He subsequently swabbed the cord for DNA, he said.

Tech crime analysts previously testified that the iPhone was connected to Richard Oland's main office computer until 4:44 p.m., on July 6, 2011.

The iPhone was the only item that disappeared from the office and was never located.

A red Sobeys Compliments reusable grocery bag, which was seized from the trunk of Dennis Oland's Volkswagon Golf and tested for latent traces of blood, was also submitted.

Richard Oland's secretary's husband, William Adamson, previously testified to seeing a man wearing a brown jacket enter the office on July 6, 2011, carrying a bag matching that description.

Juror discharged

The jury lost another member on Monday.

Juror No. 7 was discharged after an association he had with someone involved in the case came to the attention of the court.

The jury is now down to 13 members for the rest of the trial, which is scheduled to run until Dec. 18.

A minimum of 10 is required to deliver a verdict. Otherwise, a mistrial would be declared.

It would be up to the Crown to decide whether it wants to proceed with a new trial.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Walsh told the jury that juror No. 7 was dismissed due to an association that "unbeknownst to him" would have disqualified him as a juror.

If the juror and the court had realized it during the jury selection, he never would have been chosen, Walsh said.

But it is "reasonable cause to discharge," he said.

Another juror was 'unable to serve'

This is the second juror the case has lost. On Sept. 16, the judge said juror No. 4 was unable to serve and someone who had been selected as an alternate was named a juror.

Fourteen jurors and two alternates were selected instead of the normal 12-member panel because the trial is scheduled to last 65 days, increasing the chances someone will get sick or be unable to serve for some other reason.

The second alternate was dismissed at the start of the trial.

The judge previously told the jurors that all of them will sit through all of the evidence and arguments, but only 12 of them will deliberate and give a verdict.

He said if more than 12 jurors remain on the panel once deliberations begin, any extras will be eliminated by a random draw.

There is a publication ban on anything that would identify the jurors.

A total of 5,000 people were summonsed for potential jury duty, making it one of the largest — if not the largest — jury panel in New Brunswick history.

It was significantly larger than some of the most high-profile cases across Canada that have generated international headlines, including Luka Magnotta, Robert Pickton and Paul Bernardo.

Normally, only about 300 people are summonsed for trials in New Brunswick.

The trial resumes on Tuesday morning with a fourth day of testimony from Sgt. Mark Smith.