Dennis Oland trial adjourned as new evidence comes to light
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019 10:38AM AST Last Updated Wednesday, February 20, 2019 8:46PM AST
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Legal arguments dominated the second-degree murder trial of Dennis Oland on Wednesday and led to an early adjournment before a key prosecution witness could take the stand.
Crown prosecutors are nearing the end of their case at the lengthy trial, which began hearing evidence in November.
It had been expected one of their final witnesses would be on the stand Wednesday afternoon, but defence and Crown lawyers said new information would have to be examined and the adjournment was called.
It is still anticipated that John Ainsworth will testify on Thursday.
He is one of two men working in the building where Richard Oland was bludgeoned to death on the evening of July 6, 2011.
Both Ainsworth and his friend, Anthony Shaw, said they heard loud thumps coming from Oland's second-floor office while they were working in a printing shop on the first floor -- likely the sound of Richard Oland being beaten to death.
But while Shaw said he believes he heard the noises between 7:30 and 8 p.m. that evening, Ainsworth has said he thinks they happened sometime between 6 and 8 p.m.
The time is critical to Dennis Oland's defence. If Shaw is right, Oland could not have killed his father. He was caught on video security at 7:30 p.m. shopping in Rothesay, on the outskirts of Saint John.
If the noises were heard closer to 6 p.m., then Dennis Oland was still in the office with his father, a visit that lasted until 6:30 p.m. He is the last known person to see the multimillionaire businessman alive.
The Crown is also putting forward its DNA evidence this week, replaying testimony from Oland's first trial in 2015. A jury at that time found Oland guilty of second-degree murder, but the verdict was set aside on appeal and the new trial ordered.
The most important DNA evidence identified four small bloodstains on the jacket Dennis Oland was wearing when he visited his father on the day of the murder. Richard Oland's DNA profile was found within the blood stains.
However, the blood experts testifying for the Crown cannot say when or how the blood was deposited on the jacket.
Other legal arguments on Wednesday concerned contradictory evidence about the first time Saint John police searched for Richard Oland's cell phone - the only item taken from the crime scene on the day of the murder.
Claudio Cusin, an investigator with Rogers Communications, told the court on Wednesday he believes he was asked by police to "ping" Oland's phone on July 9, 2011, in an attempt to locate it. But a police witness, Sgt. Dave Brooker testified he asked for the ping on July 7 - the day the body was found.
The phone could not be found, instead producing a "roaming error" report.
It is not clear why the Oland defence team wants Brooker's testimony accepted as fact, but Justice Terrence Morrison has asked lawyers on both sides to provide him with briefs on the matter. He said he will rule on the issue next week.
With the Crown close to wrapping up its case, the defence will begin laying out its arguments sometime in the next couple of weeks. It is already known that Dennis Oland, 51, will testify in his own defence.