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Douglas Garland Trial: Court Hears Graphic Testimony From Blood Splatter Expert

02/08/2017 07:36 EST | Updated 02/08/2017 07:39 EST

Warning: This article contains graphic testimony

CALGARY — A woman and her grandson were attacked in a spare bedroom where she was hit with a blunt instrument that caused a significant impact and loss of blood, a murder trial was told Wednesday.

"There was at least one impact with a liquid blood source of Kathryn Liknes. It's my opinion that Kathryn was on the floor at the time of impact when these stains were made,'' a blood pattern expert testified at Douglas Garland's trial.

"It may have been an object that was used, it could have been a hand or foot,'' acting Staff Sgt. Jodi Arns said. "I can't tell you what object would have impacted her at the time. I can just tell you there was a significant impact to create the stains that were there.''

obrien family

Alvin Liknes (left), Nathan O'Brien (centre) and Kathy Liknes (right.) (Photo: Calgary Police Service)

Garland, 57, faces three counts of first-degree murder in the disappearance of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O'Brien. The three vanished from the couple's Calgary home in June 2014 after an estate sale. Nathan was staying on a sleepover.

Their bodies have not been recovered.

The Crown has stated it believes they were attacked in the house and taken to Garland's farm where they were killed and their bodies disposed of.

Wednesday's testimony was the first court heard about what is believed to have happened in the Liknes home.

Arns told the jury that Nathan's blood had dripped onto the floor near where his grandmother's body was lying and that he would have been "actively bleeding'' on the fitted sheet of the mattress.

"All I can tell you in that particular case is that there was a bloodletting injury and that due to gravity the blood was formulating and dropping.''

liknes home

A blood pattern expert testified that blood belonging to Nathan O'Brien and Alvin and Kathy Liknes was found in the Liknes' home. (Photo: CP)

Arns said a similar situation played out in the nearby master bedroom where Alvin Liknes had been sleeping. There was blood on the bed and spattered on the walls, the nightstand and a bongo drum.

"It's my opinion that there was a minimum of one impact to Alvin as the blood source was on or near the ground,'' Arns said.

"The reason why I say minimum of one is because in order for me to see blood-stain patterns and see blood droplets there actually has to be blood available,'' she said.

"I can actually impact somebody several times before they have an injury allowing blood to be dispersed.''

Arns added that Alvin Liknes suffered further blows — a minimum of four in at least three places in the home — and concluded that both he and his wife were dragged along the carpet in the house.

DNA of all three victims was found throughout the home — in blood pools, smears, bloody footprints and drag marks. In a number of cases, DNA from Kathy Liknes and her grandson was found in the same samples.

Garland was under surveillance on July 13, 2014 where officers saw him go into a Wal-Mart on two occasions where he bought a towel, gloves and a flashlight. He later was spotted at a park in Airdrie.

"Some of the other officers there had observed him writing in a journal and talking out loud to himself,'' said Const. Richard Massicote.

Garland, who was driving a rental car, later parked the vehicle on an oil well road behind his property and entered by foot.

Several officers, aided by the light from a police helicopter, followed him as he ran through deep grass and into a line of trees.

Eventually Massicote, his partner and two other officers who had been in pursuit tracked Garland to where he was hiding.

"I came around to the west of where he was and could hear him in the bushes. Challenged him once which he didn't respond,'' said Massicote.

"At that point I called him by name and said, 'obviously we know you're in there so better to not make the night any worse than it already is. So come on out,' at which point he came out,'' he said.

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