Appeal court overturns first-degree murder conviction of Christopher McDonald
Published Wednesday, July 5, 2017 6:04PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, July 5, 2017 6:45PM EDT
A Guelph man convicted of murder five years ago has seen his conviction overturned and a new trial ordered.
Christopher McDonald was found guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault in connection with the 2008 death of Corrine Burns.
Burns, 29, was found naked and spread eagle in Guelph’s Norm Jary Park by an elementary school student.
During the trial, McDonald’s lawyers claimed that Burns had died of a drug overdose and that he had not killed her.
“There was lots of evidence that she had a potentially fatal amount of cocaine in her system, and very little evidence to make sense of a death by any other means,” Philip Campbell, the lawyer who handled his appeal, said Wednesday in an interview.
Jurors disagreed, taking five hours to find him guilty. He was handed an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years.
Two years elapsed between Burns’ death and McDonald’s arrest.
By the time McDonald was charged with murder, he was already in custody after pleading guilty to aggravated assault in connection with another incident – this one involving a prostitute in Barrie who he had attacked.
That fact was admitted as evidence. In overturning McDonald’s conviction, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the Barrie attack was unrelated to Burns’ death and should not have factored into the jury’s decision-making.
A second trial will now be held to determine whether McDonald is guilty of killing Burns. No timetable has been set for the scheduling of the second trial.
With reporting by Nicole Lampa