New Brunswick

Blood on Dennis Oland's jacket focus of murder trial today

A bloodstain expert testified Monday that he can't say whether the bloodstains found on Dennis Oland's brown sports jacket are connected to Richard Oland's murder.

No way to say how blood got on jacket, or how long it had been there, RCMP Sgt. Brian Wentzell testifies

A bloodstain expert testified Monday that he can't say whether the bloodstains found on Dennis Oland's brown sports jacket are connected to Richard Oland's murder.

RCMP Sgt. Brian Wentzell made the statement under cross-examination by defence lawyer Alan Gold.

On Friday, the Crown witness had told the court he found five areas of staining on the jacket, which was seized from Dennis Oland's closet a week after his father's bludgeoned body was discovered in his uptown office.

The jacket is a key piece of evidence in the Crown's case against Oland.

Dennis Oland, 47, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the 2011 death of his father, Richard Oland. (CBC)
Lead Crown prosecutor P.J. Veniot said during his opening statement to the jury that DNA experts will later testify the jacket, which had been dry cleaned, tested positive for blood in four areas and that the blood matched Richard Oland's DNA profile.

Dennis Oland, 47, who is the last known person to see his father alive, told police he was wearing a navy blazer when he went to visit the prominent businessman at his office on July 6, 2011.

But Richard Oland's secretary has testified the accused was wearing a brown jacket when he arrived, around 5:30 p.m. Dennis Oland was also captured on video surveillance earlier in the day wearing a brown jacket.

The next morning, Richard Oland's body was discovered lying face down in a large pool of blood, with 45 blunt and sharp force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

Defence lawyer Alan Gold was relentless in arguing Richard Oland's killer would have had a significant amount of blood on him or her. (CBC)
On Monday, Gold argued Wentzell could not say how the stains got on the jacket.

Wentzell agreed, he was "unable to determine how the blood was deposited."

Gold also argued there was no way to date the blood. He suggested it could have been on the jacket for weeks before Richard Oland was killed.

Again, Wentzell agreed.

Gold went on to argue that the attacker, "assuming there was only one — was the perfect target for spatter," given the amount of blood at the crime scene.

Gold stressed it was a "brutal, vicious beating," with "hundreds" of blood drops flying 360 degrees around the room and that the victim and "perpetrator or perpetrators" would have been in close proximity.

"The blood stain evidence would support that," said Wentzell, as the jury was shown more graphic crime scene photos.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)
When Gold suggested the killer would have had "dozens and dozens" of spatter stains on him or her, however, Wentzell replied that it's "reasonable there would be some," but he could not say how much.

Wentzell noted the first blows would not have generated much blood, and that the sharp force injuries are believed to have been created by a linear-shaped weapon.

Such a weapon may have a small surface area, which tends to disperse blood to the sides, rather than back at a killer or forward, he said.

"I'm not saying there wouldn't be [any blood], I'm just not able to say … that there would be a large amount," said Wentzell.

No weapon was ever found.

Gold said the Saint John Police Force obtained a search warrant for Dennis Oland's home by swearing that "significant" blood spatter would be found on the killer's clothes. That officer's sworn affidavit was based on information provided by Wentzell, Gold said.

Wentzell said he doesn't recall saying "significant."

RCMP bloodstain expert Sgt. Brian Wentzell was cross-examined by defence lawyer Alan Gold on Monday. (CBC)
Gold then questioned whether Wentzell's opinion had changed, since police didn't find significant blood on Dennis Oland's clothes or in his car.

"My opinion is an unbiased opinion," Wentzell replied, unwavering.

Wentzell found two stains on the right sleeve of Dennis Oland's jacket, one on the upper left chest area and on the inside cuff of each sleeve.

They ranged in size from "sub-millimetre" to about two centimetres, he said.

They were difficult to see, Wentzell had said, noting the dark colour of the jacket. Some were "quite faint" and some were "diluted," he had said.

Gold stressed how small the stains were, noting Wentzell had missed one of them, despite carefully examining the jacket twice. It was someone else at the RCMP lab who found it, he said.

The stains were so small they could easily go unnoticed by the wearer, suggested Gold. Wentzell said he agreed, depending on the colour. He could not speculate on if, or how, dry cleaning might have affected the stains.

The defence previously suggested the blood could have been transferred to the jacket. They presented evidence that Richard Oland had a skin condition that sometimes made his scalp bleed and that he had trouble hearing and would often lean in when speaking to someone, sometimes touching the person's arm.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy testified he did not recall noting any open sores on Oland's head that were unrelated to the attack.

Gold did not mention the skin condition or hearing problem again on Monday.

Better chance of winning lotto

He did, however, suggest that police had "crumpled up" the jacket and put it in a bag when it was seized.

Gold asked whether there was a "real risk of changing the evidence" because different parts of the jacket had come into contact with others.

"I guess the potential is there," replied Wentzell. He added later, however, that blood has to be in a "wet, liquid state" in order to be transferred.

In addition to trying to discount the significance of the blood found on his client's jacket, Gold also raised questions about the absence of blood found anywhere else, despite there being no evidence that the killer attempted to clean him or herself up.

He grilled Wentzell about the absence of blood transfer found in Dennis Oland's Volkswagen Golf, arguing if Richard Oland's killer had gotten into that car shortly after the slaying, there would be an "excellent chance" of blood being in the car.

"The probability is yes, there would be blood transfer," said Wentzell.

"The killer would have a better chance of winning the New Brunswick lottery than not leaving any trace in that car. Is that fair?" asked Gold.

"If the individual had clothing on and received blood on their person and went to that vehicle and the blood was still wet, there would be a good opportunity for transfer," said Wentzell, quickly adding that he doesn't know the "circumstances" of this case.

The court previously heard forensic tests of Oland's car came back negative for blood and the car did not appear to have been cleaned recently.

Similarly, a red reusable Compliments grocery bag seized from the trunk of the car also came back negative for blood, despite "extensive" tests, said Gold.

Dennis Oland reportedly had the bag with him when he went to visit his father on the night in question, and when he left.

Gold persisted with his line or questioning, arguing the "probabilities" of finding "some sort of evidentiary material" on the assailant's clothing, car or other items would be "excellent."

"I agree, based on those circumstances and assumptions you've provided to be me there could be … but it's speculative," replied Wentzell.

The trial resumes on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. when the Crown calls its next witness.