Oland trial judge emphasizes need to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt

SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The judge hearing the murder trial of Dennis Oland repeatedly told jurors Wednesday that they cannot convict the accused unless guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Justice John Walsh of the Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John, N.B., is reviewing the testimony of nearly 50 witnesses and has pointed out that Oland has repeatedly denied any involvement in the July 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, well-known businessman Richard Oland.

Dennis Oland has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

"If you believe Dennis Oland's statement and testimony that he did not commit this offence, you must find him not guilty," said Walsh.

Walsh said even if the jurors don't believe Dennis Oland's testimony but are left with reasonable doubt, they must find him not guilty.

He said they may only convict if the rest of the evidence as a whole proves Dennis Oland's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"A reasonable doubt is based on reason and common sense," he said. "It is a doubt that logically arises from evidence or lack of evidence."

Walsh reviewed Dennis Oland's statement to police on July 7, 2011, as well as his testimony during the trial, then told the jury to assess the credibility of his evidence the same way as any other witness.

"I am only trying to assist you, not tell you what to decide," Walsh said.

Richard Oland was found face-down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. Dennis Oland had visited him at the office the evening before.

Earlier Wednesday, Walsh pointed out flaws in the police investigation.

He said the trial heard that police failed to prevent too many people from entering the crime scene, failed to protect against the use of the second-floor washroom before it could be forensically tested, failed to ensure the back door remained untouched before it could be examined, and did not ask a pathologist to determine if a drywall hammer was the probable murder weapon.

The judge also noted there was no physical evidence at the crime scene to connect with Dennis Oland or anyone else. As well, there was no physical evidence linked to the crime in Dennis Oland's car, on his BlackBerry or on shoes seized from his home.

He said it's up to the jury to use common sense to assess what was found on the brown sports jacket Dennis Oland was wearing when he visited his father on July 6, 2011.

In his instruction Wednesday, the judge pointed out that Richard Oland was known to be a "close talker" and very touchy in social situations. During the trial, Dennis Oland testified that his father chewed his cuticles and often had scabs on his head, adding there were times when his father could have had contact with the jacket.

The case is expected to go to the jury later Wednesday.


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