Jury finds Niagara Falls man guilty of killing two suspected prostitutes

Cassey Cichocki and Diane Dimitri



NIAGARA FALLS, ON -- The families of Cassey Cichocki and Diane Dimitri gasped then broke into applause after a jury said Wednesday afternoon they had found Michael Durant guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for almost 65 hours over seven days before reaching the verdict.

Durant, dressed in a wrinkled green dress shirt and black dress pants, showed no emotion as the verdict was read.

Justice James Ramsay sentenced the 39-year-old Niagara Falls man to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

Outside the court house, friends and families of the murdered women rejoiced.

Wilma Kyle, Cichocki's stepmother, was overcome with emotion.

She said she was grateful the jury looked beyond the fact that the murdered women were involved in the sex trade to fuel a drug addiction.

"They looked at these girls as human beings. They looked at them as our daughters."

Kyriacos Kyriacou, Dimitri's stepfather, said the experience "has been a roller-coaster ride."

While nothing can bring back his stepdaughter, Kyriacou said the conviction will help his family heal.

"There is no closure," he said. "There will never be closure. But at least this is something that proves our system is working. We're taking a bad human being off the streets so he will not do it again to anybody else."

Dimitri was 32 in 2003 when she went to a party at Durant's Niagara Falls home.

Court heard she was hit in the head with a hammer. The murder weapon has never been found.

Dana Arnold, who was married to Durant at the time, said she came home to find a badly injured Dimitri in their home. She testified Durant made her drive to a rural area near the boundary of Welland and Niagara Falls. That's where Dimitri's body was dumped.

Cichocki's body was discovered in an isolated area in the north end of Niagara Falls in 2006. She was 22.

Crown attorney David King contends Durant incapacitated Cichocki in his Queen St. apartment, took her into the basement and beat her to death. The young woman suffered more than a dozen blows to the head.

Four drops of blood were found on the underside of a staircase leading to the basement.

The Crown maintains Durant cleaned the area with acid then applied a fresh coat of paint.

Durant has been in custody since he was arrested in 2006.

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