CALGARY — Triple murderer Douglas Garland will learn today if he will spend the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced in a Calgary courtroom.
A jury convicted Garland, 57, of three counts of first-degree murder for the 2014 deaths of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and their five-year-old grandson Nathan O'Brien.
Garland assaulted the trio in a Calgary home on June 30, 2014, transported them to his family farm north of the city, murdered and dismembered them and then burned their bodies to ash.
Justice David Gates will determine whether to impose a sentence on Garland that would prevent his seeking parole for 75 years.
It would be one of the stiffest sentences imposed since Canada had the death penalty.
"Mr. Garland will spend his life in jail. Now the question is what will the parole board do and when can he fill out his application to get before a parole board," said Crown prosecutor Shane Parker.
"That's really what it's down to."
Parker said Gates has a number of options available including no eligibility for parole for 25, 50 or 75 years.
Garland's lawyers haven't determined what they will argue before the court.
A number of victim impact statements will be read into the record. Five members of the Liknes and O'Brien families are scheduled to have their say.
"They've lost Kathy, they've lost Alvin and they've lost Nathan," said Parker. "At the end of the day they still have to be able to deal with the loss of three critical people in their family. Grandparents, brothers, sisters, a nephew, so this decision doesn't change that. They still have to grieve.
"Who knows what Nathan would have grown up to be? But we do know Alvin was a great contributing member to society, Kathy was a grandmother. You could tell Kathy, Alvin and Nathan were well loved, well supported in the community because that courtroom was full every day."
Garland will have the opportunity to address the court before his sentencing.
His lawyer said this has been a tough case for everyone involved.
"You can certainly appreciate how both sides of the family are thinking about this," said Jim Lutz.
"There's just no winners in any of this — no good way to come out of this and have a positive spin on it."
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By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press