Calgary triple murder case makes legal history

Douglas GarlandA Calgary murder case has established a significant Canadian precedent. For the first time, a multiple murderer has been sentenced to 75 years in prison without parole eligibility in a case in which the bodies of the victims were not found. A judge imposed the crushing penitentiary term – three consecutive life sentences – on Douglas Garland (inset) in February 2017, after he was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin Liknes, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53. Only a handful of Canadian killers have been sentenced to prison terms longer than 25 years, under changes to criminal law that came into force in 2011.

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Lessons for Calgary from a failed, body-less murder prosecution

Robert BaltovichThere is a name – Robert Baltovich – that Calgary Police homicide investigators likely are loath to consider as they hunt the bodies of three murder victims. Baltovich (inset) is a member of an exclusive club in Canadian criminal history: a man convicted of murder in the absence of the body of a victim, who was later was exonerated. Baltovich was convicted of second-degree murder in 1992, although police had not found the body of his purported victim, his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain. The 22-year-old Toronto woman disappeared in 1990. Baltovich spent eight years in prison. In 2008, he was acquitted after a second trial. Baltovich is suing, claiming malicious prosecution, in a case that soon will pass the quarter century mark and that exemplifies the difficulties of a prosecution in which authorities lack a critical piece of evidence, the body of the victim. Elizabeth Bain’s remains have never been found. In Calgary, nearly two months have elapsed since the disappearance of Alvin Liknes, 66, his wife Kathryn, 53, and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O’Brien. Police have said that their bodies have not been found. Despite this, investigators concluded that the three were murdered. Douglas Garland, a 54-year-old man with business and personal ties to the victims and a criminal record, has been charged with the murders.

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