'I want to clear my name.' Dennis Oland takes the stand in his own defence
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, March 6, 2019 6:33AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 6, 2019 5:12PM EST
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Dennis Oland says he did not kill his father and he wants to clear his name.
When the 51-year-old businessman started testifying Wednesday at his trial for the second-degree murder of his father, Richard Oland, he immediately challenged the prosecution's assertion that he flew into a rage over money and bludgeoned his father to death on July 6, 2011.
"Did you do that?" defence lawyer Michael Lacy asked Oland shortly after he took the stand in a hushed Saint John courtroom.
"No," Oland answered emphatically.
Lacy asked Oland whose decision it was for him to testify at the judge-only trial, his second for the murder. His conviction in a 2015 jury trial was set aside on appeal in 2016 and a new trial ordered.
"It is my decision," the slightly built, soft-spoken investment adviser told the court.
"I want to clear my name. I think it is important for people to hear, with my own voice, that I did not kill my father."
Lacy asked Oland if he killed his father because Richard Oland was engaged in an extramarital affair. He said he heard a rumour about the affair and did raise the issue with a family friend, but did not discuss it with his father.
Dennis Oland became the prime suspect in his father's murder shortly after Richard Oland's battered body was discovered lying in a pool of blood on the floor of his uptown Saint John office on July 7, 2011. The multi-millionaire businessman suffered more than 45 blows to his body, mostly to his head, from a hammer-like weapon that also had a sharp edge.
The weapon was never found.
Dennis Oland is the last known person to have seen his father alive. He visited him at the office on the day of the murder, but insists his father was alive and well when he left their private meeting at about 6:30 p.m.
The defence position is an unknown assailant attacked and killed Richard Oland later that evening.
The prosecution has told the court Dennis Oland was on the edge financially when he visited his father, which is why he bludgeoned him to death in a dispute over money.
Dennis Oland was charged with the crime in 2013. The Oland family -- one of the most prominent business families in the Maritimes -- has steadfastly supported him ever since.
After stating his innocence, Oland was asked about his early years and his relationship with his father.
He admitted the relationship "was not perfect." Nevertheless, he said they shared a passion for cars "and mechanical things."
Growing up, Dennis Oland said he relied on his father for advice about his education and future.
"Were you told what to do?" Lacy asked.
"No, I was encouraged," he answered.
After studying in several educational institutions including the University of New Brunswick and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Oland eventually settled in Saint John and began his career as an investment adviser.
He described a close family that enjoyed going on skiing trips together.
"If there was a family trip, he (dad) would pay to get me there."
Dennis Oland is expected continue his testimony on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, the trial heard from a blood spatter expert who testified that the attack on Richard Oland sent blood flying in all directions and would have significantly spattered the assailant.
"Spatter went all around the deceased in a 360 degree pattern," retired RCMP bloodstain-pattern analyst Patrick Laturnus told the trial.
The only bloodstains detected on Oland's clothing were four small spots on the brown jacket he was wearing when he visited his father. Three of the stains were matched to Richard Oland's DNA but analysts couldn't determine how or when the blood got on the jacket.