Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Court splits Winnipeg man's sex-assault cases into separate trials

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A Winnipeg man accused of a random string of sexual assaults has won a legal battle to have the charges split into separate trials.

Marcus Xavier Baird, 27, was arrested last year following an extensive police investigation which included forensic analysis.

Baird is charged with attacking a woman in her garage in February 2011, then breaking into two homes and sexually assaulting a pair of women on consecutive days in April 2011. He is also accused of recording the latter two incidents on video, according to police and court documents.

None of the victims knew their alleged attacker.

Baird is facing a total of 13 offences stemming from the three incidents, including multiple counts of sexual assault, break-and-enter and voyeurism. None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.

Baird has elected to be tried by a judge alone in provincial court after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.The case is set to begin next week, then be adjourned until later in the year.

The Crown was hoping to have Baird face all of his charges at once on the grounds they could call "similar fact" evidence -- but his lawyers filed a motion to break them up to avoid potential prejudice to Baird.

Provincial court Judge Robert Heinrichs ruled in Baird’s favour Monday, saying the February allegations will be separated from the two April attacks for which Baird faces charges.

The February offence is now expected to proceed to trial next month, while the other charges will wait to begin separately once the first matter is completed.

www.mikeoncrime.com

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