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Dennis Oland not guilty of murder in retrial over 2011 death of multimillionaire father

Dennis Oland has been found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his father Richard Oland, eight years to the month after the multimillionaire was bludgeoned to death, following his retrial in Saint John.

Justice Terrence Morrison of New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench delivered his decision at the Law Courts building on Friday morning.

After Friday’s verdict in a packed courtroom, Oland, 51, wiped away tears and shared hugs with family and his defence lawyers. He also made his way through the crowd of supporters, sharing more hugs, handshakes and pats on the back.

After he left the Saint John courthouse, he was greeted by applause from the crowd. One woman cheered, “It’s over!” and another said, “We’re going to celebrate!”

Oland’s family will not be making any comments about the decision.

The body of Richard Oland, 69, of the prominent Moosehead Breweries family, was discovered face down in a pool of blood in his uptown Saint John investment firm office on the morning of July 7, 2011.

He had suffered 45 sharp-and blunt-force injuries to his head, neck and hands.

Dennis Oland visited his father in his office the night before and is the last known person to have seen him alive.

No weapon was ever found.

There were only two possible decisions following the retrial: guilty of second-degree murder or not guilty.

Morrison had been deliberating since the Crown and defence presented their closing arguments 10 weeks ago in the judge-alone trial.

Sixty-one witnesses testified and 309 pieces of evidence were submitted at the retrial, which lasted 44 days and spanned four months.

A key piece of evidence in the Crown’s case was the brown sports jacket Oland wore when he visited his father. It was later found to have four small bloodstains on it and DNA matching his father’s profile.

The defence argued it was “innocent transfer” and could have predated the homicide.

The high-profile case has gripped the public’s imagination from the beginning. It has been described as the O.J. Simpson case of the Maritimes, in reference to the former American football star who was found not guilty in 1995 of the killing of his wife.

On Friday, court staff set up overflow seating in an adjacent courtroom for the anticipated large crowd of spectators. Each courtroom can accommodate about 125 people.

When a jury found Oland guilty at his first trial in December 2015, he collapsed into his chair and wailed uncontrollably. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Oland served about 10 months before the New Brunswick Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial, citing an error in the judge’s instructions to the jury.

Oland has maintained his innocence and members of his extended family have stood by him.

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