Saint John — Minutes after Justice Terrence Morrison announced Dennis Oland to be not guilty, the packed courtroom erupted in cheering. But one figure quickly made his exit alone.
Brian Murtins, Dennis Oland’s stepfather of 30 years, was frantically trying to push an emergency exit door open when The Manatee’s court reporter caught up with him to discuss his reaction to the verdict.
“I’m just trying to get some air to process this happy news,” stammered Murtins, kicking the bottom of the door.
When pressed, Murtins began to reveal some of his misgivings about the verdict.
“It’s just, I thought for sure they’d find him guilty. That he’d be sent away for good, you know? Of course I love Dennis like he’s my biological son. ‘Dennis The Menace’ I always called him. God, he hated that.”
Our reporter followed Murtins out of the courthouse to his car.
“I always wanted him to call me Dad, but he never did until a few days ago…The timing is a little freaky,” said Murtins, hands shaking so badly that he dropped his car keys.
“A couple years ago I had to borrow $100,000 from Dennis to pay off a gambling debt, and I still haven’t paid him back. Shit.”
Murtins, forgetting about his car keys, began to ramble on about every time he might have slighted Oland.
“He’d never play catch with me, but of course he was too old for that when I came into the picture. I think I tried a little too hard to be a father figure to him, you know? Maybe I should have given him more space.”
At press time, Dennis Oland had insisted on driving Murtins home in Oland’s vehicle.
“Call me in an hour to continue this interview!” shouted Murtins out the window, looking pale. “Feel free to swing by with some police officers — just none from Saint John!”