Jurors retire to begin deliberating verdict at Oland murder trial

SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Jurors for the murder trial of Dennis Oland in New Brunswick have retired to begin deliberating a verdict.

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Oland has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder related to the death of his father, well-known businessman Richard Oland, who was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

Dennis Oland looked grave and serious as the four women and eight men of the jury left the courtroom at the Court of Queen's Bench.

"Thank you. We will await the jury's decision," said Justice John Walsh.

Walsh spent most of the last two days delivering his final instructions to the jury, reviewing testimony from nearly 50 trial witnesses and repeatedly warning jurors that they must be convinced of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.

"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.

Walsh said the jury can return only a guilty or not guilty verdict on the charge of second-degree murder. He said the verdict must be unanimous and told jurors to "make every reasonable effort" to reach a verdict.

"Keep an open mind but not an empty head. Listen to what your fellow jurors have to say. Jurors are judges," Walsh said.

Walsh says it's up to the jury how late to deliberate into the evening.


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