Was Dennis Oland proven to be the murderer of his father?
We’ve been thinking rather a lot about the Canadian justice system lately. Having lived through the years and months leading up to the murder trial of Dennis Oland and having the opportunity to sit in the courtroom during the trial has left us with much to think about.
We have been left wondering, for example, whether this mind blowingly expensive, time consuming process leads to any better outcomes than, say, simply throwing the dice. Despite all the hours, days and months of testimony and despite well meaning court officials, an ethical crown and a considerably more than adequate defense team we, and no one else we’ve talked to, feel that justice has been served.
“Does the trial process lead to any better outcomes than, say, simply throwing the dice.”
Despite the huge amount of entered evidence and testimony, the case against Dennis is actually quite simple:
a) Dennis is Dick Oland’s son and is thus, statistically speaking, more likely to be the killer then a random individual. He was also the last person, that we know of, to see Dick Oland alive.
b) Dennis Oland had a very small amount of Dick Oland’s blood on his sport coat.
In Dennis’s defense, the amount of blood was so small as to be completely inconsistent with the circumstances of the murder. As the coat was a few years old and as Dennis (and his coat) actually lived in his parents house for a period of time before the murder there were ample opportunities for that amount of blood to find its way onto the coat. As there was no blood anywhere else, whether on his shoes, in his car, pants, bag, log book or really anywhere, there was more then reasonable doubt that the blood got on the jacket during the murder. Given the circumstances, the onus was on the crown to prove that it got on the coat during the murder and they did not or could not.
“The onus was on the crown to prove that the blood got on the coat during the murder and they did not.”
Also, witnesses in the print shop below Dick’s office testified and or provided in statements to the police that they heard noises that were consistent with the circumstances of the murder at around 7:45 PM. Dennis is known, and agreed to by all, to have left Dick’s office on or before 6:36 PM.
All the other testimony, whether it concerned the whereabouts of Dick’s cell phone or whether Dennis drove around the block 2 or 3 times or that Dennis may have looked guilty in his volunteered police testimony is irrelevant to the facts of the proof of Dennis’s guilt. Everyone looks guilty to some (and not to others) through a police room interview camera. All the comings and goings of Dennis are consistent with the way we all behave during the course of normal day.
We are also left wondering what evidence may have been destroyed by the bizarre behavior of the Saint John police force. It was clear that they were unfamiliar and unpracticed with dealing with this kind of high profile crime. Failing to adequately protect the crime scene or entertain other possibilities for murder suspects may have a played a role in deciding to charge Dennis in the first place.
On top of all of this, the motive was not strong. The inheritance did not go to Dennis Oland, it went to Dennis’s mother Connie Oland. Dennis’s financial circumstances were also consistent with someone who wanted to save a family house in the unfortunate circumstance of a divorce. His situation was also consistent with individuals who work in profitable yet cyclical businesses. Unfortunately, overdrawn credit cards are all to common within the non-murdering classes of our society.
So how did this happen? Many people are saying that this was a case of the common people railing against the privileges of the “1%.” We don’t think that it was that simple. Those thirteen jurors clearly took their roles very seriously and tried to do the best that they could. They listened to evidence for three months and deliberated for 4 days. No, what went wrong here is that the jury simply did not understand what they were being asked to do.
“What the jury actually was actually asked to do is decide whether Dennis Oland was proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
We think that the jury thought that they were being asked to decide whether they believed that Dennis was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What they were actually asked to do is decide whether Dennis Oland was proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We know that the jury was more than adequately briefed but maybe it’s not reasonable to expect that randomly chosen individuals will be capable of consistently understanding, trial by trial, the more nuanced aspects of their charge. The only reasonable explanation that we can find is that this jury was just one of those that did not understand.
“In the spectrum of proof, say from one to 100%, we doubt that the crown even made it to 30%.”
From what we saw, the crown did not even come close to proving anything. In the spectrum of proof, say from one to 100%, we doubt that the crown even made it to 30%. Nowhere near the 80% plus the judge indicating that they would need to find Dennis guilty. And so a family, that through horrible circumstances lost their husband, father and grandfather, has now been forced to lose a son, brother, husband and proud father of four.
It was pretty clear from the behavior of the presiding judge that he was rather taken aback by the decision of the jury. We understand that it was within his power to throw out the decision of the jury and he should have done so. Now that he didn’t, Dennis and his family will be forced to spend more time and money filing appeals while Dennis tries to build a semblance of a life in jail and his family struggles to not fall apart.
We at Vote Canada are quite surprised and deeply worried that Canadians can have their lives taken away from them based upon such a flawed process, supported by such flimsy evidence. If juries are meant to protect us from the misuse of power by the state, what is to protect us from misuse of power by juries?
What do you think? Vote Canada values everyone’s opinion and we encourage our readers to submit comments and as usual we are going to put a question to the vote. The question is:
Do you feel that justice has been served in the case of Dennis Oland? a) Yes b) No c) Not sure
Just remember, that when the police and crown decide to go knocking on doors, if anyone of us is at risk, we are all at risk.
Please go to the “Vote on this Question” box in the upper right hand column to vote on this issue.
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