New trials ordered for man convicted of killing 2 women in Niagara Region

Ontario's highest court has ordered new, separate trials for a man convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of two sex workers in Niagara Region over more than two years, saying the cases should not have been tried together.   

Michael Durant challenged his 2012 convictions in the deaths of two women identified only as D.D. and C.C., arguing the trial judge made several errors in conducting the legal proceedings.  

Court documents show the two women died from blunt force trauma to the head.  

D.D., who was 32, was found in a ditch in Welland, Ont., in August 2003. Twenty-two-year-old C.C.was found in a grassy wooded area in Niagara Falls, Ont., in January 2006.  

But while the two cases have some common features, the Court of Appeal for Ontario says the trial judge was wrong to admit the evidence on each killing as evidence of a similar act on the other, and to proceed with only one trial.  

In a decision released Monday, the court says the judge also erred in refusing to dismiss a juror who knew C.C.'s stepmother and in failing to leave manslaughter as an available verdict in D.D.'s death.