Mistrial declared in Dennis Oland’s murder retrial over ‘improper’ background checks on jurors

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A Court of Queen’s Bench judge has declared a mistrial in Dennis Oland’s murder retrial after the Crown became aware of « improprieties » related to the jury selection process.

The jury has been dismissed and the Oland’s retrial for the murder of his father will continue by judge alone. 

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office the morning of July 7, 2011. He had suffered 45 sharp- and blunt-force blows to his head, neck and hands.

A jury found his only son, Dennis, guilty in December 2015, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned the conviction in October 2016 and ordered a new trial, citing an error in the trial judge’s instructions to the jury.

The defence asked last year that the retrial be heard by a judge alone, but the Crown refused to give the required consent and Morrison denied the application.

More to come.

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Jury selection for Dennis Oland’s murder retrial continues in Saint John

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Jury selection for Dennis Oland’s murder retrial continues today in Saint John with another approximately 100 prospective jurors scheduled to appear at the courthouse.

Five jurors — two men and three women — were chosen Monday from a panel of about 100.

A total of 14 jurors and two alternates are required for the retrial, which is expected to last about 16 weeks.

Oland, 50, is being retried for second-degree murder in the killing of his multimillionaire father Richard Oland, more than seven years ago.

He was convicted in December 2015, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned his conviction, citing an error in the trial judge’s instructions to the jury, and ordered a new trial.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Terrence Morrison is presiding.

Two weeks have been set aside for jury selection.

It’s a multi-step process that gives prospective jurors an opportunity to ask to be excused before being individually questioned by the judge, scrutinized by two of their peers called triers, and then either challenged or accepted by the Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers.

Only people the Crown and defence are both content with are selected.

There is a publication ban on the questions asked, the answers given and the reasons anyone is excluded.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, was discovered on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)

Morrison gave a « very stern warning » that anyone who divulges the questions to other members of the jury pool or posts them on social media will be brought before him and « placed in very serious jeopardy. »

« That is how serious we take the fair selection of a jury, » he said.

The jury pool consists of more than 1,000 people who answered summonses to appear Oct. 15 at Harbour Station, the city’s largest arena.

They were divided into groups of 50 that day and assigned dates between Oct. 29 and Nov. 9 to attend court for possible selection.

Oland, a financial adviser, is accused of killing his 69-year-old father on or around July 6, 2011 in Saint John.

He has maintained his innocence from the beginning and his extended family has stood by him.

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Dennis Oland’s retrial in 2011 death of father begins today with jury selection

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One of the most sensational murder cases in New Brunswick history is back before the courts in Saint John on Monday as jury selection begins in the retrial of Dennis Oland in the 2011 bludgeoning death of his father, multimillionaire Richard Oland.

Oland was convicted in December 2015 of second-degree murder, but the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned the decision in October 2016, citing an error in the trial judge’s instructions to the jury.

Jury selection for the new trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Harbour Station, the city’s largest arena.

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The arena served as a makeshift courtroom for jury selection in 2015 as well because the Saint John Law Courts building wasn’t big enough to accommodate the large number of prospective jurors.

There is a publication ban on how many people have been summonsed to attend Monday for possible jury duty, but 5,000 were served a summons for Oland’s first trial — nearly 17 times the usual number in New Brunswick.

It was one of the largest jury pools in the province and larger than some of the most high-profile cases across Canada that have generated international headlines, including Robert Pickton, Luka Magnotta and Paul Bernardo.

Justice officials wanted to ensure they had a large enough jury pool from which to select 12 jurors, two alternates and two additional jurors without bias.

They were concerned about the amount of pretrial publicity and possible conflicts of interest, given the city’s small population of about 68,000 and the Oland family’s prominence as founders of ​Moosehead Breweries Ltd., the oldest independently owned brewery in Canada.

Richard Oland, 69, was found dead in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011. (Canadian Yachting Association)

Anyone who received a summons must appear before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Terrence Morrison on Monday, unless they were previously excused by the head sheriff. Otherwise, they could be found in contempt of court and fined up to $1,000.

The retrial is scheduled to last 65 days and employers in New Brunswick are not required to pay employees’ wages while they serve on a jury.

Oland, 50, a financial adviser, is accused of killing his 69-year-old father, whose body was discovered in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.

He has been living in the community under conditions since October 2016, when the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial and released him on bail.

Oland maintains he is innocent and his extended family has stood by him from the beginning.

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