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Jury finds Douglas Garland guilty of murdering Calgary boy and grandparents

CBC logo CBC 2017-02-16 Meghan Grant

A Calgary jury has found Douglas Garland guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a five-year-old boy and his grandparents after deliberating for 8½ hours.

Garland, 57, was charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the 2014 deaths of five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and Alvin, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53, of Calgary.

Douglas Garland is escorted into a Calgary police station Monday night in connection with the disappearance of Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents, who disappeared June 29. © CBC Douglas Garland is escorted into a Calgary police station Monday night in connection with the disappearance of Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents, who disappeared June 29.

Family members of the victims cried when the verdicts were read out, but Garland showed no reaction. 

Jurors began deliberating at 5:15 p.m. MT Wednesday evening and returned shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday. 

The bodies of Nathan and his grandparents have never been found, and prosecutors believe the three family members were taken from the Liknes's home alive on June 29, 2014, then killed on a farm near Airdrie, north of Calgary, where Garland lived with his parents. The Crown's theory is that Garland burned the bodies. 

Crown prosecutors Shane Parker and Vicki Faulkner as well as defence lawyers Kim Ross and Jim Lutz made closing arguments to the jury on Monday.

Jurors had heard earlier in the trial that Garland was angry at Alvin Liknes over a business relationship formed and broken years earlier.

The defence team did not call any witnesses to testify. 

Internet searches found on a hard drive that was found hidden in the farmhouse where Garland lived with his parents showed obsessive research on the Likneses, killing, torture and weapons, according to the Crown.

Nathan was sleeping over at his grandparents' on the night of June 29, 2014, when the three family members disappeared.

Jurors heard testimony that DNA from all three was found on the Garland farm, including on a hacksaw and meat hook. 

Two small pieces of human remains — belonging to Alvin and Kathy Liknes — were also found on the property.

The search for Nathan and his grandparents ended two weeks after their disappearance when Garland was arrested and charged with murder.

A first-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.

- See the latest updates in live tweets from CBC reporters in the courtroom. On mobile? Click here to see the live blog.

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