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Thomas Svekla, seen outside a Fort Saskatchewan courthouse Monday, was already in jail last week when he was charged with killing two prostitutes. ((CBC News))

A six-week preliminary hearing has begun for an Alberta man accused of second-degree murder in the deaths of two prostitutes.

Thomas Svekla, 38, was charged last week in the death of 19-year-old Rachel Quinney. He was already in jail, charged in May with second-degree murder in the death of 36-year-old Theresa Innes.

Apreliminary hearing inInnes's case, already scheduled to begin Monday morning inFort Saskatchewan, Alta., will now deal with both cases.

In addition to the second-degree murder charges, Svekla is charged with offering an indignity to a body in both women's deaths.

A publication ban has been imposed on all the evidence that will be presented over the next six weeks to determine if the case should go to trial.

Shaigechas saidhis client isn't responsible for the two women's deaths and if he is committed to stand trial, itwould be before a judge and jury.

Police allege Svekla reported the discovery of Quinney's body in a wooded area northeast of Sherwood Park, an Edmonton suburb, on June 11, 2004. Innes's remains were discovered in a hockey bag in a Fort Saskatchewan home in May of 2005.

One trial will cut back on cost, time: expert

Sanjeev Anand, whoteaches criminal law at the University of Alberta, saidthe courts probably opted for one trial because it's likely evidence in the two cases will come from some of the same people, and having a single trial limits the amount of time those people will have to spend testifying in court.

"In order to minimize the waste of resources, and minimize the inconvenience to witnesses, tominimize the cost,it would make sense to deal with both matters at the same time," he said.

Anandsaidthere may alsobe "similar fact evidence" that ties the cases together. The term refers to striking similarities between the way two crimes are committed, which may indicate the same person committed both crimes.