Monday, March 4, 2019

Dennis Oland; New Brunswick: On-going murder retrial; (Loaded with intriguing forensic issues. - See link to prosecution's forensic evidence - HL). Global News (reporter Andrew Cromwell) reports that the retrial is set to hear the first defence witness tomorrow (Tuesday March 5, 2019) as the retrial resumes..."The retrial process began with the lengthy selection of a 16-member jury, but that panel would never hear a witness. The panel was dismissed after Justice Terrence Morrison declared a mistrial upon learning that a member of the Saint John Police Force wrongly used an internal database during jury selection. The trial is now being heard by Morrison alone. The actions of police in the investigation continue to be a focal point, as they were in the original trial."

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: " Much of the evidence presented in the first trial has been repeated by the Crown. That includes the now-infamous brown sports jacket seized from Dennis Oland. The court heard from a pair of RCMP DNA analysts, who confirmed three spots of blood containing Richard Oland’s DNA were found on the jacket. Bloodstain expert and RCMP Sgt. Brian Wentzell, another Crown witness, underwent an aggressive cross-examination from the defence, who argued that whoever killed Richard should have been covered in blood."


STORY: " Dennis Oland retrial set to hear first defence witness on Tuesday," by reporter Andrew Cromwell,  published by Global News.

SUB-HEADING: "The Crown has closed its case in Dennis Oland's retrial and the defence is set to call its first witness..."

GIST: "The retrial of Dennis Oland for the second-degree murder of well-known Saint John businessman Richard Oland is set to resume on Tuesday, with the defence expected to call its first witness. Oland is accused in the bludgeoning death of his 69-year-old father, who was found dead in his office in July 2011. Court has been told that the elder Oland suffered about 45 blunt and sharp-force wounds to the head and neck area. The marathon trial did not sit this week, with the Crown wrapping up its case Feb. 22. The trial has heard evidence from 39 witnesses, three fewer than the first trial in 2015. The Crown has called on several officers, including Sgt. Mark Smith, the lead forensic investigator in the case. Smith, who spent a number of days on the witness stand, admitted that multiple mistakes were made during the preliminary stages of the investigation. This included allowing officers to enter the crime scene, some much further than he permitted. The head of the Department of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of New Brunswick says the force deserves credit for admitting it was wrong. Much of the evidence presented in the first trial has been repeated by the Crown. That includes the now-infamous brown sports jacket seized from Dennis Oland. The court heard from a pair of RCMP DNA analysts, who confirmed three spots of blood containing Richard Oland’s DNA were found on the jacket. Bloodstain expert and RCMP Sgt. Brian Wentzell, another Crown witness, underwent an aggressive cross-examination from the defence, who argued that whoever killed Richard should have been covered in blood. The defence interviewed Ainsworth in October of that year, and he said he heard the noises around 7:30-7:45 p.m. That video would be entered as an exhibit. Ainsworth would say in retrospect that he couldn’t really say what time it was. In a combative and tension-filled cross-examination with defence lawyer Alan Gold, Ainsworth admitted to agreeing with the guilty verdict of the original jury, which was quashed by the Supreme Court of Canada on appeal. He insisted that this did not play a role in his testimony and angrily denied the suggestion that he would not do anything that might help the accused’s defence. Anthony Shaw, who was with Ainsworth in his Printing Plus office downstairs from the murder scene, testified he heard the noises around 7:30 p.m., when Dennis was known to be kilometres away. Ainsworth told the court he realized the importance of the timing of the noises when he found out Oland had been murdered. He testified that his original assumption was that Oland had died from natural causes. The defence says it could be finished calling witnesses by mid-March. This is expected to be followed by a time period for final written arguments from both sides and then time for the judge to make his decision. It could be late May or early June before a verdict is reached."

The entire story can be read at:

Read  also the forensic perspective of an experienced defence lawyer who has been following the case: (Published by Executive Editor Randy O'Donnell)..." Alcohol detected in his slain father’s body during autopsy could prove pivotal to Dennis Oland’s defence, says Toronto criminal lawyer Christopher Hicks. Hicks, partner with Hicks Adams LLP, tells that Oland’s defence team will probably call its own toxicologist to expand on testimony provided by a prosecution witness indicating the presence of alcohol in the multimillionaire’s system at the time of his death July 6, 2011 in Saint John, N.B. The defence is set to begin its case in the second-degree murder trial Tuesday. “The Crown derided this testimony from its own expert because they had no evidence that Richard left his office after Dennis departed,” says Hicks, who is not involved in the case and comments generally. “Some observers suspect the defence has evidence that after Dennis exited his father’s office around 6:30 p.m., Richard left to meet a ‘friend’ for a snack and a glass of wine in the Rothesay area with his cellphone in his pocket,” he says. “Richard is believed to have then returned to his office, where he was murdered around 7:30 p.m., when his son Dennis  — according to video surveillance — was unarguably at a market in Rothesay with his wife.” A man working in an office above the 52 Canterbury St. murder scene testified that he heard loud thumps and bangs between 7:30 and 8 p.m. A second man testified that he did not know what time he heard the noises, beyond the general range of 6 to 8 p.m. The noises likely were the sound of Richard Oland, 69, being bludgeoned to death, The Canadian Press (CP) reports. Dennis Oland has pleaded not guilty to murdering his father, whose body was found lying in his office on July 7, 2011. This is his second trial — Oland was convicted in a jury trial in 2015, but that verdict was set aside on appeal, and the new trial ordered. Richard Oland’s death stunned the city of Saint John, where the Olands are well-known as the affluent family behind Moosehead Brewery. His missing cellphone was a key plank in the Crown’s case, which wrapped up Friday. Cellphone records indicate the missing phone received its last message at 6:44 p.m. on the day of the murder. Experts told the court it pinged off a tower in Rothesay, on the outskirts of Saint John, CP reports. Dennis Oland, 50, told police he left his father's office about 6:30 p.m. that day and immediately headed to his home in Rothesay.
The phone, like the weapon used in the killing, has never been recovered. “It was the prosecution's theory that Dennis took the cellphone with him to Rothesay after murdering his father — why was never made clear. This, according to the Crown, explained why the last call to Richard's phone pinged off the Rothesay tower,” says Hicks, who has decades of experience in defending clients accused of homicide. “The defence introduced the phenomenon of a ’neighbouring’ tower, which could explain why Richard’s cell, when still in his office, could have pinged off the Rothesay tower, rather than Saint John,” he says. “The defence also raised the issue of a ‘roaming error,’ which we can expect will be developed in the presentation of its case.” The most contentious portion of the Crown's case involved the murder investigation conducted by the Saint John Police Department, CP reports. Early testimony included admissions from senior officers that insufficient measures were taken to protect the crime scene. The court heard about multiple officers, not directly involved in the investigation, visiting the scene to view Richard's body. Few of those officers wore protective gear. Defence lawyers also argued that police did not adequately investigate a possible back-door escape route from the crime scene and that there was a rush to judgment in deciding Dennis Oland was the prime suspect mere hours after his father's body was discovered, CP says. “From the beginning, the Crown’s narrative of the investigation by Saint John police has been savagely attacked by Dennis Oland’s defence team,” says Hicks. “Investigators did not follow best practices, failed to secure the crime scene, and treated Richard Oland’s office as a tourist destination, strolling about indiscriminately without hazmat suits, heedless of the need to preserve evidence. “The integrity of the crime scene was punctured by officers’ coffee cups, casual use of the bathroom facilities before they had been scoured for evidence, and a total failure to examine a major escape route out the back door,” he says. “The competence and integrity of the investigation by the Saint John Police Department was gravely compromised, and the prosecution’s case against Dennis Oland was weakened significantly,” Hicks says. Defence lawyer Alan Gold has told the court that Oland will testify in his own defence, as he did at his first trial, CP reports. The trial is expected to last until mid-March."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:  Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.