An Aldergrove man convicted of the 2007 killings of two Fraser Valley sextrade workers has been granted a new trial.
The B.C. Court of Appeal released its written decision in the case of Davey Mato Butorac Thursday.
In July 2011 a B.C. Supreme Court jury found Butorac guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Gwendolyn Jo Lawton, 46, and Sheryl Lynn Koroll, 50.
Lawton's body was found on March 13, 2007, dumped over an embankment beside a rural road in Abbotsford. She had been beaten and strangled to death.
Four months later, Koroll was found dead in a Langley industrial park. She had also been beaten and had died of blunt force head injuries.
Butorac was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 23 years. He appealed his conviction based on the trial judge's decision to admit the evidence of each murder as similar fact evidence with respect to the other.
The trial judge found Lawton and Koroll had some similar personal characteristics, their bodies were left in similar positions and both were brutally beaten. More importantly, the DNA or blood of both victims had been found in a vehicle owned and driven exclusively by Butorac.
There was strong evidence the car had been involved in Koroll's death. The trial judge recognized the evidence was not as conclusive in Lawton's death, but ruled the similar fact evidence should be admitted.
The appeal court disagreed, stating in its decision that there was no evidence to support the judge's finding that the presence of Lawton's blood and DNA on Butorac's car "defied innocent explanation." A new trial date has not been set.
Butorac is also charged with second degree murder in the 2006 death of 47-year-old Margaret Redford.
-Jennifer Saltman is a reporter with the Vancouver Province
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