SAINT JOHN, N.B. — One of Dennis Oland’s defence lawyers told jurors Monday they are no closer to knowing who killed his father than they were when his client’s murder trial began.
In his closing argument, Alan Gold said the jury should reach a not guilty verdict based on Oland’s testimony and the circumstantial evidence presented by the Crown.
Dennis Oland is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his father, well-known businessman Richard Oland.
The 69-year-old was found face down in a pool of blood in his Canterbury Street office in Saint John, N.B., on July 7, 2011. The jury has heard he suffered 45 blunt and sharp-force wounds to his head, neck and hands, though no weapon was ever found.
Gold spent most of the morning systematically reviewing the Crown’s case and said there’s not a “shred of evidence that would produce the kind of emotion that would lead to the brutal killing of Richard Oland.”
The police investigation found no forensic evidence to point to Dennis Oland, he said, adding that hairs found in Richard Oland’s hands did not match his son’s DNA and there was nothing under the elder Oland’s fingernails to implicate Dennis Oland.
There was also no blood or DNA evidence in Dennis Oland’s car, on a reusable grocery bag he carried to and from his father’s office the evening of July 6, 2011, or on his Blackberry, which he used to take a call from his wife at 6:36 p.m. that night.
There was no drip trail or clean-up at the scene of the murder, he continued, and no evidence at the wharf where Dennis Oland kept his boat or on the boat itself.
“Never have so many searched so long to find so little,” Gold said.
The Crown focused on a text message received by Richard’s Oland phone at 6:44 p.m. on July 6, 2011, which pinged off a tower in Rothesay. Experts testified that it probably wouldn’t have pinged off a tower in Rothesay if it was still in Richard Oland’s office.
Security video showed Dennis Oland in Rothesay after he left his father’s office, but Gold said it isn’t known where a cellphone call will connect. He said Richard Oland could have stayed in the office or gone out for a short time after left.
Oland’s iPhone has never been found.
“It’s just a mystery in a case with many mysteries,” Gold said.
He also dismissed the Crown’s suggestion that Dennis Oland’s financial hardships were motive enough to prompt a murderous rage.
Gold said financial difficulties were nothing new for Dennis Oland, noting he had equity in his home and would have had no trouble getting money from the bank. He was also able to get more money from his employer, he said.
Gold also reminded the Court of Queen’s Bench that employees of Printing Plus, one floor below Richard Oland’s office, heard a crash and rapid thumping on the floor above between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on July 6, 2011.
“Those noises had to be the brutal murder of Richard Oland,” said Gold.
He said the jury was shown security video of Dennis Oland and his wife Lisa shopping in Rothesay at that time.
Unless the jury completely discounts the testimony of the two employees of Printing Plus, Gold said it must return a verdict of not guilty.
Gold said the Crown would likely use its closing arguments to point out inconsistencies in Oland’s evidence, but he said his client was forthright in his testimony. He said if Oland wanted to lie, he wouldn’t have told the jury he went back to his father’s office a third time on July 6 despite telling police he went back only twice.
Oland also told police he wore a navy jacket that day, although he could be seen in security video shown during the trial wearing a brown jacket. Gold described the conflicting account as an “honest mistake.”
Court has heard that the brown sport coat had three blood stains on it that were barely visible to the naked eye and DNA samples taken from the jacket found at Dennis Oland’s home matched the profile of his father.
Oland had the jacket dry cleaned the day after police said he was a suspect in his father’s death, but Gold called that a “giant red herring.” The dry cleaners testified that they examined the jacket but found no stains and didn’t use any stain remover, he added.
Gold said the three blood stains were minuscule. “These were virtually invisible, tiny dot stains,” he said.
Various security camera videos show no evidence of someone who had just committed a brutal murder, Gold said.
“You see an innocent looking person,” he said.