There was a court case in New Brunswick (Canada) last year that really attracted my attention. It was a murder trial, the result of the bludgeoning death of a high profile, wealthy man, just one province away from my home, and not too far from our family cottage.

What also raised my interest was that even though the murder dated back to 2011, the arrest was only made in 2013, and the trial was finally set to begin in September 2015.

Since I work with business families and families of wealth, the fact that the man being tried was the victim’s only son also piqued my curiosity. A person driven to commit patricide, wow, you don’t see that every day, certainly not in small town New Brunswick.

Instead of recounting the background details of this case, here is a link to a National Post story from Christie Blatchford, who has covered her share of newsworthy trials.

Trial of Dennis Oland, accused of murdering millionaire father, reveals dysfunctional family

This news account came after the first day of the long awaited trial, so it sets the stage nicely without giving away the ending.

I began following the trial on Twitter when it began in September. There were a handful of local journalists who attended every day, and they gave their followeres a blow-by-blow account of every courtroom interaction, day in day out, week after week.

Then one day in November, I was at my cottage, and I decided to take a two-hour drive to check things out for myself. I had no idea what a surreal experience I was in for.

I told myself that I needed to take this trip, as sort of a research project, because how many more chances would I get to have a front seat at a murder trial making headlines.

The trial that day was set to begin at 1:30 PM, so I left the cottage to make the drive to St.John around 11 AM. I parked my car around 1:15, having underestimated the time the drive would take.

I hurried to the courthouse and suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was going or even whether I would be allowed in. I noticed a small group of reporters outside, waiting, with cameras, for the arrival of the man on trial.

I approached the front door and noticed the security system, not unlike what you would see at any airport. I acted like I knew what I was doing, removed my watch and belt, and made my way through the metal detector. Once on the other side, I gathered my things, and while putting my belt back on, I saw a familiar face, a few years younger than me.

“Hey, who is that guy, he looks familiar?” I thought to myself. “Oh, that’s right, it’s the guy who’s on trial, that’s where I know that face from”. (WTF!?) The smiling man came through security right behind me, with his lawyer, and he politely said hello to the courthouse staff and headed for the elevator.

I suddenly realized that I still didn’t know where I was going, and I didn’t want to ask, trying to look like I belonged there, not like some interloper. So without thinking about it too much, I raced for the elevator to join the party of two, knowing that the floor I wanted was also the one that they were going to.

A few hours ago I was at my cottage, and now I was riding in an elevator with an accused killer and his lawyer. The things I wouldn’t do to learn more about business families and the dysfunctions they breed.

The elevator stopped and I allowed them to exit ahead of me. I noticed a buzzing courtroom in front of us, and decided to try and find a bathroom.

During my visit to the facilities, I texted my wife about my surreal elevator ride, and she quickly responded, asking whether my “new friend” had been shackled and handcuffed. “No, but no worries either, he doesn’t have any reason to want to kill me”.

To be continued next week.