FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Court of Appeal has overturned Dennis Oland's conviction for the second-degree murder of his millionaire father, and ordered a new trial.
Oland showed no immediate reaction, but his wife Lisa Oland gasped as she held hands with Dennis's mother Connie. Both women were in tears.
The appeal court rejected Oland's claim that the verdict was unreasonable, but found the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury on evidence around the jacket Oland was wearing the day of the murder.
"His instructions on a key piece of the evidentiary puzzle are fundamentally flawed,'' said Chief Justice Ernest Drapeau.
Dennis Oland arrives at the Court of Appeal in Fredericton on Oct. 24, 2016. (Photo: CP)
Oland told police he was wearing a navy blazer, but later admitted he was wearing a brown Hugo Boss jacket. The Crown portrayed the statement as an intentional lie, while the defence and Oland himself said it was an honest mistake.
The brown jacket was later found to have minuscule blood stains and DNA matching the profile of Oland's 69-year-old father, Richard, who was found bludgeoned to death in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.
The court's decision came in a packed courtroom Monday, with the public seating full more than an hour ahead of the ruling. Many of Oland's family were in attendance, including Derek Oland, Richard's brother.
"I am very pleased,'' Derek Oland, the executive chairman of Moosehead Breweries Ltd., said in a statement after the ruling. "We continue to believe Dennis is innocent.''
A bail hearing for Dennis Oland has been scheduled for Tuesday morning. (Photo: CP)
Dennis sat at the back of the courtroom, wearing a black pin-striped suit and flanked by two sheriff's deputies. He had been convicted by a jury in December and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for at least 10 years.
Drapeau said the three-judge panel was unable to come up with "a comprehensive set of reasons for our decision'' during deliberations over the weekend, and instead delivered only a summary.
"We would expect any new trial would be considerably shorter than the first one,'' said Drapeau.
A bail hearing for Oland has been scheduled for Tuesday morning.