A new trial has been ordered for three men convicted of murder in the 2012 death of Jordan Reno near Prince George.
Lyle William Baker and Dustin Lindgren were convicted of first degree murder and Kevin Zaporoski was convicted of second degree murder following a 43-day trial in 2017. Reno’s body was found in a box on the property of Baker’s mobile home; Reno’s head was wrapped in plastic.
The B.C. Court of Appeals ordered the new trial last week after ruling that Justice Ron Tindale’s two-day direction to the jury was delivered too quickly and was confusing. Part of the confusion lay in the fact there were three defendants and the number of different verdicts the jury could have delivered
“In my view, the charge failed to provide the jury with a proper sequential framework for assessing each accused’s liability,” wrote Justice Frankel. “Even in transcript form some parts of the charge are difficult to follow. Given the number of accused, the number of possible verdicts, the alternate routes to liability, and the fact that the instructions were provided only orally, it was of the utmost importance that the charge provide the jury with a clear and logical step-by-step process it could apply during its deliberations. This it did not do.”
Twenty-two-year-old Jordan Christian Reno’s body was found by the police on the 4100 block of Knight Crescent during the morning of June 23, 2010.
At the time, the Fort St. John RCMP confirmed this was the same Jordan Christian Reno who was charged following a series of beatings at Beaton River near the northern city. The RCMP believed Reno was the victim of a targeted attack with ties to the illicit drug trade.
The Crown’s position was that Baker had agreed to help Lindgren kill Mr. Reno by beating Reno and then holding him until either Lindgren, or others directed by Lindgren, came and killed him. “However, after Mr. Baker and Mr. Zaporoski beat Mr. Reno at Mr. Baker’s mobile home, Mr. Reno died,” wrote Frankel. “A forensic pathologist opined death was caused by multiple blows to the head (i.e., blunt force trauma). However, the pathologist could not exclude the possibility Mr. Reno had suffocated from plastic wrapping placed on his head while he was still alive; it was not possible to determine whether those wrappings had been placed pre or post-mortem.”
All three argued a new trial should be ordered because the charge was disorganized, confusing, contained numerous errors, and was delivered at a pace that was difficult to follow.