Warning: graphic details and testimony are included below.
CALGARY — Alberta's chief medical examiner testified Wednesday that human bone fragments were found in the ash from a burning barrel at the home of a suspect in a triple-murder trial.
Douglas Garland, 57, is charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O'Brien in June 2014.
Dr. Elizabeth Brooks-Lim told the court that she was asked to examine the Liknes home and the ash found at the Garland farm north of Calgary.
Douglas Garland is escorted into a Calgary police station in 2014. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Brooks-Lim said an initial examination of the ash from the burning barrel didn't find anything that was "clearly, evidently human.'' Bone bits that were found were more than just slightly burned.
"They had been burned for a significant amount of time or heat. The bony structure was really starting to collapse. They were very charred,'' she told the jury.
It was during cross-examination from defence lawyer Kim Ross that Brooks-Lim revealed what had eventually been found in the fragments after consulting with a forensic anthropologist.
"She determined that the majority of the bone fragments that she had examined were animal, but there were fragments within that she felt could be human,'' Brooks-Lim said.
"And there were, I believe, at least one or two fragments that she felt could have been from a child under five years as well as several fragments she felt could have come from an older adult or adults.''
Brooks-Lim said if a human body is burned at a temperature of 1000 C or 1800 F, bones can literally turn to ash in two hours.
Brooks-Lim also examined the Liknes house and said it was difficult to say if the couple and their grandson had died there. She said pools of blood in the home matched the three, but it would depend on the kind of injuries as to whether they were fatal.
"They may have still have been alive.''
Alvin Liknes (left), Nathan O'Brien (centre) and Kathy Liknes (right.) (Photo: Calgary Police Service)
A police cyber-detective testified that there were downloads on killing and how to dispose of a human body found on a hard drive hidden at Garland's home.
Det. Brian Clark said he found manuals on doing autopsies and different ways to kill — including the use of garottes, combat knives and in hand-to-hand combat.
"How to become an assassin, all aspects of killing, the most effective weapons, medical preparation in order to effect a kill and psychology,'' said Clark.
Clark also found methods on the best ways to dispose of a human body.
"Dismemberment using a hacksaw, eliminating identifiers such as teeth and hands, burying, incinerating and speeding up the incineration process by using an acetylene torch or gas torch,'' he told court.
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