The St. John's police investigation into Richard Oland's murder remained in the limelight today, when his son's new trial, Dennis Oland, occurred in his second week.
The court heard two other officers who were among the first to arrive at the victim's office after his body was discovered the morning of July 7, 2011.
Const. Don Shannon and Sgt. Stan Miller entered the bloody crime scene without wearing any protective gear, listened to the courtroom.
But the two tried to avoid stepping on the blood, did not touch anything in the office and retraced the steps, they said.
Shannon testified that her first priority was to determine the victim's condition, reported as not conscious and not breathing, and what assistance required.
As he approached the ground and noticed "too much" dried blood, his focus quickly changed to see if there were other victims in the office, or suspects, he said.
He skirted the pool of blood and stood close to the walls, to avoid contaminating any evidence, he said.
Miller, who arrived at 52 Canterbury St. a few minutes later, acknowledged in the interrogation by the defense that he entered the bloodstained office after he already knew the victim was dead and that the office had been withdrawn.
No officer has recalled that his shoes have already been tested for blood.
During Oland's first trial in 2015, the court heard of a suspected partial print of footwear in blood, which Sgt. Mark Smith originally thought could have been created when the body was removed, but later realized, after reviewing photographs of the crime scene, that the pattern was there before the removal.
Oland, 50, is being repeated in the death of his billionaire father. The 69-year-old businessman suffered more than 40 blows to his head, neck and hands, according to the court.
A jury found Oland guilty in December 2015, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned the conviction in October 2016 and ordered a retrial, citing an error in the first instance judge's instructions to the jury.
The judge's trial, which began Nov. 21, heard at least 19 police officers appear at the crime scene in the hours after the body was discovered. Const. Duane Squires, who guarded the scene, testified on Monday that in retrospect he "probably would have done things differently."
Video shows possible escape route from the back door
Also on Friday, Oland's defense lawyers played a video to illustrate how a "killer or killer" could have escaped using the back door of the victim's office, which has never been tested for forensic evidence by police.
The video was not shown to the jury at Oland's first trial in 2015 and was not officially registered until Monday. But Queen's Court Judge Terrence Morrison agreed to attend the contentious promulgation, created by the defense with the help of a law student.
He shows the young man at the back of the building, walks to the right, leaps over a small garage in the alley, climbs a low wall to a grassy backyard, turns left through a narrow passage between two buildings, opens a wooden gate in the end and exit onto Germain Street.
The back door is located on the second floor of the front of the building and exits almost at ground level because it sits on a hill. The defense claims that it would have been the killer's preferred escape or killers, because it was the most hidden route.
"This is a possible escape route – you agree with that, do not you?" Chief defense lawyer Alan Gold asked Squires, another of the first officers to arrive on the scene that morning.
"Of course," replied Squires.
"It was not so difficult to climb these two elevations?" pressed gold.
"No," acknowledged the officer.
Crown prosecutor Jill Knee objected to the defense video, noting that it was filmed in 2014 – three years after Oland's death.
She argued that it is unclear whether she is the representative of the area at the time, citing as example a pile of wreckage that made it easier for the law student to climb over the garage.
Knee said the video has no probative value and is highly harmful.
But Gold argued that Squires was "sounding harder than it would have been" for someone to escape using this route and accused the Crown of trying to minimize the significance of the back door.
Family pressed for the police investigation to resume
Oland's family issued a statement Monday demanding that the New Brunswick Police Commission immediately resume its investigation into the police's handling of the case.
The inquiry was suspended in 2016, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.
The family said there is no reason for the probe not to proceed now because the trial is done only by the judge without a jury.
"We are confident that the findings of such an inquiry will support the conclusions that the investigation was filled with errors and Dennis should never have been charged," said the statement signed by his mother Connie, wife Lisa and family of his uncle Derek Oland. the chief executive of Moosehead Breweries Limited.
Oland's family lawyer Bill Teed had urged the commission to reactivate its review of the force's investigation in the summer of 2017 on behalf of the defendant's mother and the victim's widow, Constance (Connie) Oland.
The commission's reason for postponing the review, to ensure it would not affect his son's criminal case, was "flawed," Teed argued in his July 6 letter, which was previously under the publication ban, from ordering President Ron Cormier.
"The quality or lack of it in the police investigation has been and remains a lively matter and if its investigation confirms the many flaws alleged that will only ensure that justice is done for Dennis Oland and his family," Teed wrote.
He noted that it could take years for the criminal case to be completed and, if the commission's investigation had been postponed until then, the quality of his investigation would "certainly suffer," he said.
"Oland's family and the general public deserve a thorough and timely investigation into the handling of the case of Richard Oland's murder by the Saint John's Police Force to ensure that any faults do not recur."
The Commission's lawyer, Robert Basque, responded five days later, saying that there would be "an examination" of the conduct of the force in connection with Oland's investigation.
"The NBPC is monitoring the events as they occur and intends to reactivate the process at the appropriate time," Basque wrote.
The trial is scheduled to last four months.