Tuesday, December 26

No one patient recieves the kind of attention being given to Robert Pickton

Compare the health system to the justice system
No one patient receives the kind of attention being given to Robert Pickton

Dr. Chris Pengilly
Special to Times Colonist
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
CREDIT: Stuart Davis, CanWest News Service
Hundreds of potential jurors for the Robert Pickton murder trial arrive at the Supreme Court of B.C. in New Westminster earlier this month. Dr. Chris Pengilly argues there are huge efficiencies that could be made both in the cost of and the speed of delivery of the justice system.

I've been in the field of medicine for 40 years, and never have I found a patient who needed the full-time attention of a specialist and two general practitioners for one whole year.

Yet as I wrote this, a jury was being selected for the trial of Robert Pickton -- a trial that is estimated to run for at least one year.
A trial that is going to require the full-time attention of a judge (specialist) and at least a prosecution and a defence lawyer (general practitioners). As if that is not enough, this is the first of two trials.

As this process was beginning to unfold, the Royal Jubilee Hospital was having to cancel elective surgeries. There were 35 patients on stretchers in the emergency department waiting to be admitted. There is a $4-billion cost overrun in health-care spending which is going to result in further cuts. I cannot see where these cuts can be made.

Since 1978, when I first came to Victoria, there have been cuts, cuts and more cuts. The hospitals are of dubious cleanliness, we have mixed-gender wards and as I walk into the Jubilee Hospital there is literally a patient bed in a curtained-off area on the way to the public washrooms.

For the Pickton trial, 600 innocent law-abiding citizens were being compelled to attend the court to be selected to sit on the jury. I'm sure most would rather be spending time with their families in this busy pre-Christmas season.

I could not imagine 600 people being compelled to attend a hospital clinic to see if they were compatible for a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant for one of my patients.

Then consider that if a suitable donor was found he/she would be compelled by law to attend the hospital every day for a year! Could you envisage a special ward being constructed for one single patient? For one individual. But that is what happened for the Air India trial. A special high-security court was specifically constructed.

If a surgeon was to make an error, and I'm sure it does happen, should the patient be put through the entire process again? -- initial consultation, pre-operative assessment, pre-operative investigations, readmission to hospital and the whole surgical process repeated? That would be a ridiculous suggestion. And yet Kelly Ellard was subjected to a complete retrial because the judge apparently made an error in his address to the jury.

If at a team meeting concerning the care of a complex medical patient, one of 12 members disagrees, should the entire care program be abandoned, and started from scratch again? Ellard required a complete retrial because one of 12 jurors disagreed. A majority of 91.6 per cent was not enough to obtain a verdict. Defenders of the system use the adage "it is better that three guilty persons go free than that one guilty person should be falsely convicted." I would agree with this if it was so. It is not. Ask David Milgaard. Ask Donald Marshall. Ask Guy Paul Morin. Ask Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

Another story in the news is of a confessed murderer being released by an Alberta court because the judge declared his confession to be inadmissible. According to the news story, during the police interrogation the suspect was offered legal counsel on more than one occasion, but he declined. The judge thought that this was still technically unsatisfactory.

The public has lost faith in the justice system. It has nothing to do with the delivery of justice. It is an autonomous, voracious monster that needs rethinking from the top down. It has sunk under the weight of counter-productive process.

One problem is that it is the justice system which is making the laws. Elected politicians attempt to introduce laws, only to find them being challenged, and either severely modified or entirely rejected by the courts.

Now that the death penalty has been abolished the courts no longer make life-and-death decisions.

Yet life-and-death decisions are made every day in the emergency room, the operating room, the cancer clinic, specialists' offices and even sometimes the family physician's office. These decisions are made in minutes or hours rather than weeks or months.

I would not like to see the justice system as underfunded as our current medical system is, but there are huge efficiencies that could be made both in the cost of and the speed of delivery of the services.

Dr. Chris Pengilly is in family practice in Victoria.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006

Friday, December 22

Raising awareness

By Teresa Mallam
Free Press
Dec 22, 2006

Many people have talked about the missing and murdered women along Highway 16, the so-called Highway of Tears. But Prince George musician and song writer Ray Bessette was moved to sing about it. Bessette has been playing music and writing songs for many years. The stories about the missing women and the Highway of Tears gave him inspiration to write about them.

Three years ago, Bessette was reading the morning newspaper and saw a picture of Nicole Hoar, a tree planter who disappeared one summer while on her way back to work. He was so moved by the story that he wrote a song "Please Come Home" to express his feelings for the victims.
Later Bessett and his friend Brent Brekkaas co-wrote a song titled "Highway of Tears" in response to Tamara Chipman's disappearance.

They partnered with Tony Romeyn, the founder of The Highway of Tears website, and together they started working on projects to create public awareness and education. Since Bessette's passion is music, he wanted to use music as the channel for awareness.

The "Highway of Tears" song was performed at the Highway of Tears Symposium in March and the feedback the artist received was amazing, he said, so much so it prompted him to produce a CD. To date, 500 copies of a Highway of Tears CD, showcasing his Highway of Tears songs has been produced.

The funds from the sales of the CD will go directly to creating public awareness and prevention through signage along Highway 16. Romeyn and Bessette have joined forces with Lisa Krebs, coordinator of the Highway of Tears Initiative.

"Ray has the full support of the Highway of Tears Initiative and the Governing Body, he has signed a Contribution Agreement so we know exactly how funds are allocated" said Krebs. "Ray's goal is to raise awareness and prevent any more victims, as a father, he cannot imagine not having a child come home. His contribution is an example to everyone; that we all have the ability to support the Highway of Tears.

If you are interested in purchasing a CD to support the Highway of Tears Initiative, copies are $10.00 and sold at Books & Company, Angelique's Native Arts, CNC Bookstore, Two Rivers Gallery, Kumbayaz Native Arts, Prince George Native Friendship Centre Gallery, UNBC Bookstore, Sight and Sound Inc.

Prince George Free Press

Wednesday, December 20

Is sanctuary enough for sex workers?


Globe and Mail
December 20, 2006

VANCOUVER -- For years, Vancouver turned a blind eye to the mysterious disappearance of dozens of prostitutes from the city's Downtown Eastside. But just before the start of a sensational trial alleging that many of the women were murdered by a serial killer, the city has apparently found its heart.

City hall has given preliminary approval to a location for Canada's first 24-hour drop-in centre for sex-trade workers. Police have renewed their commitment to a $100,000 reward related to the missing-women case. And a rundown hotel has been converted into housing for women who are victims of violence.

For years, family and friends of missing women have been petitioning, marching and shouting for more thorough police investigations and more support for the vulnerable women who sell sex from street corners. But little was done to help families search for the missing or to aid those working in the industry.

Robert Pickton's first-degree murder trial in the deaths of six women from the Downtown Eastside, now scheduled to begin on Jan. 22, is expected to draw attention to Vancouver's hesitant response to the plight of street prostitutes.

(Mr. Pickton has been charged with an additional 20 murders, which will come to trial later.)
"There is going to be a big spotlight [on the Downtown Eastside], with the Pickton trial going on, and people will see that things have not changed much," said Jeanne Legare, vice-president of the board of WISH, a service agency for sex workers.

"The women still face the same harsh realities. Evidence at the trial will be shocking to a lot of people, disheartening. But for the women here, it is their day-to-day life."

Last week, Vancouver City Council endorsed a plan to give WISH a 10-year lease in a city-owned building.

This marks a turning point in the agency's frustrating search for a home.

The unanimous vote was "huge, just huge for us," Ms. Legare said. City hall brought all interested parties together, including community and business groups, she said. "The proposal went through council without debate. This would not have happened a year ago," she said.

Vancity Credit Union gave WISH a charitable contribution of $1-million in 2003 at the height of the publicity about the search at Mr. Pickton's property. The money was to support WISH's efforts to buy a property for a 24-hour drop-in centre for sex workers -- the centre was to be a safe haven for women regularly exposed to violence.

WISH considered more than 18 sites before finding a willing partner. But it quickly became obvious that buying a property was an unrealistic goal.

Rapidly escalating property values and community opposition to a drop-in centre for sex-trade workers led to the group considering a rental with a long-term lease, said Elisabeth Geller, manager of Vancity's community program. The $1-million grant will be available for property improvements on the leased premises.

Ms. Geller noted that the location of a drop-in centre on Alexander Street in the Downtown Eastside has been supported by numerous city officials and committees, including the city manager, the police department, the social-planning division, real-estate planning and council.

"The Pickton trial -- jury selection and the trial starting soon -- I think it makes people even more aware, more wanting to protect women in the sex trade and support attempts to have them exit the sex trade," Ms. Geller said. "To have all of these groups on board for something like this is really significant. There will be some hurdles ahead . . . but this was a major hurdle and they got over it."

The development-permit process will begin early next year and is expected to take another six months. Public hearings will be held, giving residents and businesses in the area a chance to express their views.

The police force's decision to renew its commitment to contributing $30,000 toward a $100,000 award was made without controversy. The award, first offered in 1999, was extended for one more year. The provincial government provided the other $70,000.

The award is for information leading to a conviction for kidnapping or murder of women listed on the current missing-women poster. Although Mr. Pickton is charged with 26 murders, police have a list of 65 missing women from the Downtown Eastside.

The third initiative announced recently was the opening of Sereena's House, a 57-unit single-room housing facility for Downtown Eastside women who have been victims of violence. The renovated residence has been named after Sereena Abotsway, one of the six victims in Mr. Pickton's first trial.

The building was formerly known as the New Wings Hotel, a rough spot where there were three murders last year. The city closed the hotel and revoked its business licence. The owner invested more than $1-million in upgrading the hotel and then asked the Atira Women's Resource Society whether the agency was interested in running the hotel.

Ms. Abotsway was a long-time client of Atira. "We knew her well, and this is our way of honouring her," executive director Janice Abbott said.

"Sereena was very eager to please, eager in a way that women who are seriously oppressed and [have] experienced trauma can be," Ms. Abbott said. "She had such an easy laugh, easy smile. She was very emotional, in a lot of pain."

Atira has a no-barrier policy, which means clients are not screened for anything. The agency provides services to women who have been victims of violence, regardless of whether they are actively using drugs, engaging in sex work or facing significant mental-health issues.
"Because we are no-barriers, we end up working with a lot of women that other organizations won't work with," Ms. Abbott said.

Atira has a list of 400 women waiting for a room in a place like Sereena House. As the city moves forward with providing more facilities, no one is talking about what would have happened if places such as it and the new WISH drop-in centre were available years ago for women in the Downtown Eastside.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 18


CBC News Online Updated December 2006

December 9, 2006: Jury selection begins for the first of two trials. Fourteen jurors will be chosen from a list of 600 potential people.»CBC STORY: Pickton jury faces close screening

August 9, 2006: B.C. Supreme Court judge rules that the 26 first-degree murder charges against Pickton be split into two parts and that he first be tried on six counts.» CBC STORY: Pickton to be initially tried on 6 counts of murder
June 29, 2006: Crown prosecutors and Pickton's lawyers agree to start presenting evidence to a jury in January 2007.» CBC STORY: Pickton jury could hear evidence by Jan. 2007

March 7, 2006: Prosecutors decide not to appeal a judge's decision to throw out one of the 27 murder charges against Pickton. » CBC STORY: Crown won't appeal quashed charge against Pickton

March 2, 2006: A judge rules that Pickton cannot be charged with the murder of an unidentified victim. This reduces the number of charges against Pickton to 26.» CBC STORY: 1 of 27 charges against accused killer Pickton thrown out

Jan. 30, 2006: The trial of Robert Pickton begins in New Westminster, B.C. The voir dire phase of the trial, in which lawyers argue over what evidence will be admissible, is expected to last several months on its own.» CBC STORY: Pickton trial to start Monday

Aug. 21, 2005: The Canadian Press reports that the B.C. government put a $10-million mortgage on Pickton's pig farm in February 2003 to cover his publicly funded defence.» CBC STORY: B.C. puts $10-million mortgage on accused killer's farm

June 8, 2005: Justice James Williams rules against unusually tight restrictions on communicating pre-trial evidence. Defence lawyers wanted the judge to order people watching the pre-trial evidence unfold not to talk to or otherwise communicate with anyone about what they had learned. The ruling means pre-trial evidence will still be covered by a standard publication ban.» CBC STORY: Pickton judge rules against ban on conversation

June 1, 2005: Justice James Williams of New Westminster, B.C., is appointed as trial judge in the Pickton case. Williams replaces Justice Geoffrey Barrow, who stepped aside because of trial scheduling problems.» CBC STORY: New judge named to handle Pickton murder case

May 25, 2005: B.C. Crown prosecutors announce 12 new first-degree murder charges against Robert Pickton, bringing the total number of murder charges against him to 27. Pickton appears via videolink to hear the charges. » CBC STORY: Robert Pickton faces 12 more murder charges

March 31, 2005: Judge Geoffery Barrow of Kelowna, B.C., is chosen to hear the case against Pickton. » CBC STORY: Judge chosen for Pickton murder trial

Feb. 14, 2005: In Vancouver, more than 500 people march in an annual Valentine's Day memorial for women who have disappeared from the city's Downtown Eastside. » CBC STORY: Vancouver's missing women remembered in march

Dec. 20, 2004: A judge grants Pickton's defence team a third delay to examine the results of nearly 150,000 DNA swabs from his farm. » CBC STORY: Pickton trial date delayed again

Oct. 6, 2004: The RCMP in Vancouver add eight names to the list of women missing from the city's Downtown Eastside. » CBC STORY: More names added to missing women's list in Vancouver

March 10, 2004: Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s officer of health, says he can't rule out the possibility that human remains were in the meat processed at Pickton's pig farm. The meat from the farm was never distributed commercially. About 40 friends and neighbours may have eaten meat from the farm. » CBC STORY: Human remains may have been in farm meat

Jan. 27, 2004: A police task force announces that the remains of nine more women have been found at Pickton's farm. » CBC STORY: DNA of 9 more women found at Pickton farm» CBC STORY: Remains of 23rd woman discovered at Pickton pig farm

November 2004: A police task force ends its 21-month excavation of Pickton's farm. July 23, 2003:The preliminary hearing ends with B.C. Provincial Court Judge David Stone ruling that Pickton will go to trial on charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of 15 women. » CBC STORY: Pickton heads to trial on murder charges

July 21, 2003: Police begins a search of a marshy area on the Kwantlen First Nation in Mission, B.C., about 65 kilometres east of Vancouver. » CBC STORY: Pickton probe expanded to wetlands June 30, 2003:Pickton's preliminary hearing resumes after a two-month recess. » CBC STORY: Pickton returns to court on Monday

Jan. 13, 2003: The preliminary hearing in the trail of Robert William Pickton begins, with the courtroom packed with U.S. reporters and family members of the 15 women he's charged with killing. Material presented at the hearing cannot be reported under Canadian law. » CBC STORY: U.S. media out in force at first day of Pickton's trial

Jan. 9, 2003: Police identify the remains of Cynthia (Cindy) Feliks on Pickton's pig farm. » CBC STORY: Another woman's DNA found on Pickton farm

Dec. 11, 2002: U.S. media outlets ignore a publication ban on the details of the Pickton case and post information on the internet. » CBC STORY: Details of Pickton case already available on the Net

Dec. 2, 2002: Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, asks for the public and media to be barred from his client's preliminary hearing. A judge would later deny the request. » CBC STORY: Pickton's lawyer wants closed hearing

Oct. 4, 2002: Peter Ritchie says he'll quit the Pickton case if he doesn't get help in preparing his defence. He would later reach a deal with the B.C. government to fund Pickton's defence. » CBC STORY: Pickton lawyer threatens to quit over unpaid bills

Oct. 2, 2002: Four new murder charges are laid against Pickton, bringing the total to 15. » CBC STORY: Pickton charged with four more murders in B.C. missing women case

Sept. 19, 2002: Pickton is charged with four more courts of murder. Pickton is now charged in the deaths of 11 women. » CBC STORY: Pickton faces four more murder charges

Aug. 8, 2002: Maggie deVries says Vancouver police found the DNA of her sister, Sarah deVries, on an object on Pickton's farm. » CBC STORY: Missing woman's DNA found at Port Coquitlam farm, sister says

June 24, 2002: Members of Pickton's family file a complaint with prison officials because Robert Pickton has been kept in segregation since his arrest. » CBC STORY: Pickton's family upset over holding centre conditions

June 6, 2002: Police begin to use heavy equipment, including two dump trucks, in their excavation of the Pickton pig farm. » CBC STORY: Extra equipment aids pig farm excavation

May 28, 2002: Investigators tell relatives of the Vancouver missing women they don't expect to find any intact bodies at Pickton's farm, and only fragments may remain. » CBC STORY: Families of missing women told scene 'like a massacre'

May 22, 2002: Pickton is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Brenda Wolfe. » CBC STORY: Pickton charged with murder of seventh woman

April 17, 2002: Investigators expand their search for evidence to include a second property near Pickton's pig farm, a site that includes a rundown banquet hall. » CBC STORY: Search for missing women expands to second site

April 13, 2002: Native leaders conduct what they call a healing ceremony at the gates of the Pickton farm, saying they want to comfort the spirits of the murdered women. » CBC STORY: Native leaders hold 'healing ceremony' outside Pickton farm

April 10, 2002: The B.C. Crown charges Pickton with murder in the death of Andrea (Angela) Joesbury. It is the sixth murder charge against Pickton. » CBC STORY: New evidence leads to sixth murder charge in B.C. missing women case

April 2, 2002: Prosecutors add three more murder charges against Pickton in the deaths of Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock and Heather Bottomley. » CBC STORY: More charges in B.C. missing women case

March 22, 2002: A lawyer representing Pickton's younger brother Dave says media interest in the case may jeopardize Pickton's chance at a fair trial. » CBC STORY: Lawyer says media focus threatens B.C. missing women case

March 10, 2002: Vancouver police hold a meeting with relatives of the missing women to ask them for information they hope with help their investigation. » CBC STORY: B.C. police ask families of 50 missing women for clues

March 8, 2002: A B.C. provincial court judge bans the publication of a 1997 warrant to search Pickton's farm. The warrant stemmed from a charge of attempted murder against Pickton. » CBC STORY: B.C. judge bans publication of 1997 pig farm warrant

Feb. 22, 2002: Vancouver police arrest Robert William Pickton and charge him with two counts of first-degree murder. » CBC STORY: Owner of pig farm charged with murder

Feb. 7, 2002: A police task force looking into the disappearance of more than 50 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside seal off a pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., and begin a massive search. » CBC STORY: B.C. police search farm for 50 women

Dec. 11, 2001: Investigators with the missing women task force consult with police in Seattle to see if there are any links between their case and Gary Ridgway. Ridgway was charged with four murders attributed to the Green River serial killer, who killed 49 people in the Seattle area in the 1980s. » CBC STORY: Investigators compare killer notes in Seattle

Oct. 15, 2001: The Vancouver police department and the RCMP announce that the disappearance of 46 women from the city's Downtown Eastside will be treated as murders. »

CBC STORY: Murder probe in dozens of missing women cases

Sunday, December 17

Facing the fight of his life - Trevor Greene

Soldier has faced triumphs, tragedies in battle to recover from axe attack

The Toronto Star
December 16,2006

VANCOUVER—A month ago, he was barely able to whisper. Today, there is a hint of timbre in the voice, evidence that ever so slowly he is getting his wind back. He remembers places and faces, names and dates. He knows who he is, where he has been, where he is going.

Trevor Greene is on the mend again. And this time his recovery, riddled for many months by an agonizing series of setbacks including pneumonia so severe it would have ended lesser men, appears to be on track.

One morning last week, when Debbie Lepore, the Canadian Forces captain's fiancée, strode into the neurological ward at Vancouver General Hospital to resume her daily bedside vigil, she was delighted by his capacity to show he is there — in mind as well as body. Despite the lifetime of complications that began when he was cut down by an axe-wielding Afghan teen in March, Greene glanced up at Lepore and announced the deeper significance of the day. "It's the anniversary of Pearl Harbor," he told her.

It is tiny triumphs such as these — clear signs of cognitive awareness — that ease the burden of what by any measure remains a long and difficult struggle to coax Greene back to a fuller life.
It is nothing less than the reawakening of Trevor Greene.

Borne largely in silence by those who know him best, it has been a saga of surprising highs and crushing lows. His loved ones have witnessed the 42-year-old journalist-turned-soldier endure complications upon complications, each taking its toll on their initial hope of speedy recovery.

Hope remains. But it is tempered today by a sobering awareness that Greene must now find the inner strength to embark on a new odyssey of intensive rehabilitation that may be measured in years rather than months if he is to reclaim his rightful place alongside Lepore and their 23-month-old daughter, Grace.

Buoyed by his improvement of late, Greene's family drew back the curtain of privacy last week in a series of interviews with the Toronto Star reporter and photographer who got to know him last spring, walking by his side while they were embedded with his platoon at Forward Operating Base Gombad, north of Kandahar.

It was on Day Eight of that mission, the afternoon of March 4, during one in a long string of otherwise peaceful meetings with village elders, that the fateful blow fell. Greene, whose sole purpose as a Civil-Military Co-operation Unit officer was to find ways to better the lives of the local population, had removed his helmet and sat cross-legged, notepad at the ready, in a gesture of respect.

Approaching from behind, Greene's assailant produced an axe from beneath his traditional knee-length kameez tunic. He raised and swung in a movement too sudden to forestall, uttering a single cry of "Allahu Akbar." The attacker was dead seconds later, downed by 14 bullets from three nearby Canadian soldiers.

But for Greene, unconscious and bleeding from a 3.5-centimetre gash to the brain, the battle had only just begun.

"A lot of people came together to save Trevor's life in those first days," said Greene's older sister, Suzanne Grant of Oakville. "The medics on the scene, the doctors in Kandahar, and then the medical teams in Germany, where we arrived two days later. Everything right down to the nursing care was amazing."

The first critical surgery came at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where a team of U.S. neurosurgeons removed the shattered top of Greene's skull and assessed the brain damage. Still in an induced coma, Greene was stabilized and readied for the long flight home by air ambulance, via Iceland, Ottawa and finally to Vancouver.

On March 27, barely three weeks after the attack, Greene showed the first signs of a remarkable recovery, awakening from his coma on his mother Elizabeth's birthday. A few days later, he managed his first word to Lepore and Grant as they walked into his room — a weakly whispered "Hi" — despite the tracheal tube in his throat for assisted breathing.

Through the first weeks of April, Greene progressed rapidly, cheerful and chatty and ravenous for solid food. Feasting on sushi, spaghetti, peaches and Nanaimo bars, among other favourites, he began to reverse the weigh loss that had shaved 40 pounds from the strapping 210-pound frame he carried in Afghanistan.

But an uncomfortable moment drew nearer by the day, as Greene began asking the fateful question: what happened to me?
"Trevor thought he had been mugged. And as he progressed, he wanted to know the story. He wanted to know when he could go back to Afghanistan," Lepore told the Star.

It was a Canadian military doctor who delivered the gruesome details of the axe attack. As Greene absorbed the magnitude of his injury, he seemed to shrink back inside himself.
"Everything shifted around late April when Trevor realized what happened. He became very sad. He just stopped eating, stopped talking. He was doing so well. And then he regressed tremendously," Grant said.

Greene's apparent depression was but one factor in a host of setbacks that were soon to follow.
Already, he had been through one episode of pneumonia brought on by Acinetobacter baumannii, an antibiotic-resistant superbug commonplace among the wounded of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now a second bout was taking hold in his already weakened lungs.

Greene's condition plunged further still in May, after a failed attempt to restore the top of his head with cranioplasty surgery, a procedure involving the application of two synthetic plates to his skull. Within two days of the operation, Greene was in intense distress and collapsed in his wheelchair, aspirating into his lungs and triggering the renewed onset of pneumonia.

"His eyes dilated because of pressure buildup between the top of the brain and the plates. So three days after the plates went in, they had to come out," his father, Richard, said.

"You can imagine how we felt. Suddenly our son is back in intensive care with pneumonia for a second time. It was a big, big, big setback. It was huge.

"And since then, it has been just a steep, steep slope that he's had to come back from."

Throughout the long summer, Greene battled still. His family describes Sept. 21 as a crucial turning point — this time for the better. Greene underwent a second cranioplasty surgery and was whole again, his head restored to its former shape.

Though Greene is slowly regaining his voice, his father, a retired RCMP officer, said the family is careful not to tax his ability to speak.

"He has been through so much that I don't want him to spend energy having to talk. I want him spending his energy getting better," Richard Greene said. "Back in October he was only able to hold his head up for 10 seconds. Now he can do it for five to 10 minutes. That is the kind of progress we need to see."

These nearly 10 months of tormenting setbacks have delayed the essential therapies Greene will need to maximize the use of his body. Only now is he approaching the point of being well enough to engage in an intensive speech and physiotherapy regimen to address the motor-skills damage to his brain.

Greene's family has spent some difficult months researching his medical options, only to find that Canadian facilities suitable to his condition are few and the waiting lists long. Now, they are counting on Canadian Forces officials to take the initiative and, at the very least, find an interim facility where Greene can begin the first courses of rehabilitation.

Lepore, who works one day a week as a chartered accountant but has otherwise dedicated her every waking moment to Grace and Greene, is ready to pack and relocate with her daughter to be by Greene's side, regardless of where he goes next.

Through it all, the family has grown closer. Richard Greene describes Lepore's continuing effort as "simply amazing. There is no question she carries the greater burden, being there every single day."

Greene's parents, who live in Nova Scotia, and sister visit Vancouver at one-month intervals, trying to spell off Lepore and maintain a family presence at the bedside. And each today speaks with certainty about the eventual recovery.

"He is already getting back some use of his fingers, hands and arms. The legs are another matter and right now we're not seeing much activity at this point. We need to get the ball rolling on physiotherapy to know where his legs will take him," said his father.

"As far as speech goes, there is absolutely no doubt Trevor is screaming to get out. If he gets any kind of assistance he certainly will be able to express himself. Overall, we are very confident he will be able to come back and have a life. But it is going to take time."

Lepore sees another dimension awaiting her fiancée's recovery. Throughout his 42 years, she said, Greene impressed all those he encountered as someone who genuinely wanted to make a substantial difference in this world. Even the very night prior to his attack, sitting around the campfire at Gombad, Greene told the Star about his ambitions to return to Afghanistan as a civilian after the end of his deployment and to establish an educational aid program with the goal to teach Afghans to help themselves.

"Where do I see us in five years? I see Trevor living with us, being a father and a husband," Lepore said.

"But I also see him working again. I am not one for religion in a formal way, but what I say to Trevor is that he's been given a gift. I really believe that.

"Of course I want him back for me and for Grace. But if he can build up the strength to work again, he is going to be in a position to have a real impact. He'll be able to do more than he ever imagined before."

Courtesy of The Starhttp://www.thestar.com/
Trevor's Book: The Lost Girls of Vancouver's Low Trackwww.missingpeople.net/bookchroniclesdisappearances.htm

Mother prepares for Pickton murder trial

Sarah McGinnis, Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, December 17, 2006

Marilyn Kraft last saw her stepdaughter Cynthia Feliks at Christmas time.

"She was belly-aching because her sister got a better present than she did," Kraft chuckled as she remembered the girls unwrapping their new clothes.

"Typical sibling rivalry, but that was them. Cindy said, 'even her wrapping is nicer'."

A decade later, Kraft -- who now lives in Calgary -- is preparing herself for the trial of the man charged with killing Cynthia and 25 other women.

But when Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert William Pickton faces a jury on six counts of first-degree murder in January, he won't be tried for Cynthia's death.

"There never is any closure to it," said Kraft, who took over raising Cynthia when she was five years old.

"There is acknowledgement that these women deserved to be treated respectfully. By having him charged with (murder) they acknowledge they were women who did die at his hands, they weren't anonymous people. But there never will be closure."

Kraft admits her daughter wasn't perfect.

The normal girl with a bright smile was introduced to drugs at 16 during a visit to see her biological father. Soon, she was frequenting Vancouver's seedy downtown eastside, turning tricks for cash to feed her drug habit.

Cynthia tried to escape prostitution and addiction. She married and had a daughter Theresa, but the streets soon called her back.

Periodically she'd phone home to say she was all right.

In 1997, the calls stopped.

Kraft has been fighting for Cynthia ever since.

She battled for three years to have Cynthia's name added to a list of missing prostitutes.
Cynthia was ultimately added in 2001.

When investigators found evidence linking Cynthia to Pickton's Vancouver-area pig farm, Kraft campaigned to have Pickton charged with her daughter's death and eventually he was.

Pickton has pleaded not guilty to 26 counts of first-degree murder.

But British Columbia Supreme Court Justice James Williams ordered that Pickton would be tried on only six charges in the new year.

The remaining 20 counts of murder, including one for Cynthia's death, are expected to be heard in a second trial.

Kraft wanted her daughter to be included in one of the six charges to be heard in Pickton's first trial, which will start Jan. 8.

She fears that once that lengthy trial -- expected to last at least a year -- ends, the second trial may never happen.

And she worries no one will ever by held responsible for her daughter's death.

Justice Williams picked which charges would be tried first because he said the evidence in those counts is materially different than the others.

"I have my doubts they're going to spend all this money on six and turn around and have more trials. I don't think so," Kraft said.

When the serial murder trial commences in New Westminster next month, Kraft won't be there.
She says it's too hard.

Justice Williams is warning the evidence presented will be "graphic and distressing," and Kraft says the entire year-long journey will be an emotional ordeal for families like her.

For now, Kraft is trying to hold onto the good memories of Cynthia.

"I'm just trying to get through Christmas," Kraft said Saturday. "It was her birthday a couple of days ago; that makes it even harder."


© The Calgary Herald 2006

'Beautiful' Cindy joins tragic listhttp://www.missingpeople.net/beautiful_cindy_joins_tragic.htm
Pictures provide the clues to a daughter's lost lifehttp://www.missingpeople.net/pictures_provide_the_clues_to_a.htm
Discovery of stepdaughter's DNA confirms Calgarians fearhttp://www.missingpeople.net/discovery_of_stepdaughter.htm

Saturday, December 16

Details of Pickton allegations will be made public in January

LAW I Court decides against publication ban for the accused's first trial on six counts of first-degree murder

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun
Saturday, December 16, 2006

NEW WESTMINSTER I Details of the allegations against Robert (Willie) Pickton, who is accused of being Canada's worst serial killer, will be made public in January when his murder trial begins.

New Westminster Supreme Court Justice James Williams ruled Friday that there will not be a publication ban on Pickton's first trial on six counts of first-degree murder, which is scheduled to start Jan. 8.

Accused serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton (left) faces B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams as a court clerk reads out names of potential jurors.

Photograph by : Jane Wolsak, Canadian Press Files

Crown prosecutor John Ahern asked Williams to consider whether there should be a publication ban on the first trial because Pickton will later face a second trial on 20 additional counts of first-degree murder.

Media lawyers argued strenuously that the public will want to know why Pickton is acquitted or convicted at his first trial.

"To hold this trial such that it would be secret from the public would be enormously controversial," The Vancouver Sun's lawyer, Robert Anderson, told Williams.

Anderson said it is important that one of the most "significant and complicated" trials in Canadian history be transparent, given the time and money spent on the police investigation, the testing of forensic evidence, and the legal proceedings.

"Imagine the public's lack of confidence . . . in the Canadian criminal justice system if this trial becomes a secret," he said.

Defence lawyer Peter Ritchie said his client did not want to apply for a media ban on the first trial.

The Crown also did not request a ban, but asked the judge to consider whether one was necessary to protect the second trial. Ahern added there will be a significant "overlap" of evidence between the two trials.

"There is going to be an awful lot of publicity about this trial," Ahern said. "Much of trial two will consist of evidence from trial one, perhaps the majority."

Williams ruled that since there was no formal request for a sweeping ban, he would not impose one. However, he said that doesn't preclude him from considering a more narrow ban during the trial if one is needed to address a specific issue.

Pickton, dressed in a short-sleeve grey dress shirt, watched the proceedings via video-link from the pre-trial centre where he has been since his February, 2002 arrest. He sat motionless in his chair with his head cocked to the right, showing no response to the legal arguments.

Ahern accused Ritchie of being "inconsistent" because while the defence is not requesting a publication ban, it also will not promise to abandon any future arguments that Pickton can't get a fair second trial due to publicity of the first.

Ahern also noted the defence actively pursued bans on pre-trial hearings.

Ritchie responded that the defence doesn't want to feel "the heat" from the public by asking for a ban on the trial itself.

He added he was less concerned about stories based on testimony from the first trial, and more concerned about the media getting access to certain exhibits that will be shown in court.
Contentious exhibits could last longer in the memories of potential second-trial jurors than the words spoken in court, Ritchie told Williams.

Media outlets, including The Sun, will argue in court Monday that exhibits filed in the Pickton trial should be made public.

Anderson raised the question Friday of whether there was even "an air of reality" that Pickton will have a second trial, given the money spent on the first trial and the need to find a second panel of 12 jurors.

Both the Crown and defence insist they are working under the assumption the second trial will take place. But Ritchie said the defence is "not even close to looking at the second trial" because it is still preparing for the first.

Twelve jurors were selected earlier this week to hear evidence in Pickton's first trial.

He has pleaded not guilty to the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Marnie Frey and Georgina Papin.


© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Friday, December 15

No publication ban on first-degree murder trial of Robert Pickton: Judge

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press
Friday, December 15, 2006

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. (CP) - There will be no sweeping publication ban on the murder trial of Robert Pickton, even though the accused serial killer could face a second trial at a later date, a judge ruled Friday.

Justice James Williams made the ruling after lawyers for news organizations argued that a ban would effectively mean one of the biggest murder cases in Canadian history would be tried in "secret."

A pile of rubble including a pickup truck sits in the middle of the Pickton farm in Coquitlam, B.C. Justice James Williams has ruled that Pickton's trial in New Westminster on six charges of first-degree murder, slated to begin in January, will be held in open court. (CPimages/Chuck Stoody)

Pickton is charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of women, many of whom were sex-trade workers from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. He faces six of those counts at a trial starting in January.

Nearly all of the long and complicated legal proceedings since Pickton was arrested almost five years ago have taken place under a publication ban.

The issue of a ban on the entire first trial arose when the court severed the six first-degree murder counts, leaving 20 to potentially be tried later.

With the first trial taking place public, it becomes a question of what effect that might have on the second trial.

Dan Burnett, representing The Canadian Press and other media organizations, said a publication ban "would be one of the most controversial bans in the history of Canadian judicial jurisprudence."

"The prospect of having the biggest murder trial in Canadian history in secret is breathtaking," Burnett said in court.

Defence lawyer Peter Ritchie told the court he would not seek a publication ban of evidence heard in the trial. He would also not waive his client's Charter rights later on.

Crown prosecutor John Ahern said the obvious Charter rights he had to "infer" were of concern are section 7 of the Charter - the right to a fair trial - and another section that says an accused has a right to be tried within a reasonable time.

Ahern said he would not apply for a publication ban, suggesting such an application should come from the defence.

When the judge asked Ritchie about his client's position on whether his rights to a fair second trial would be jeopardized by not having the first under a ban, Ritchie referred to some exhibits that might be part of both trials.

Ritchie said the defence needs "a sense of what can and can't be published in the first trial."

In the end, the judge said that since neither side had sought a publication ban, he would not impose one.

But he said the defence's concern about certain exhibits might have to be addressed - with a possible publication ban - through another application before the first trial begins.

The judge also said that other issues might arise during the first trial that the defence could seek a publication ban.

© The Canadian Press 2006

Thursday, December 14

Xmas to the streets

December 14, 2006

Call her Santa's little helper on the street.

A local prostitute is showing her heart of gold by handing out holiday "love baskets" to other street walkers in Edmonton.

Among the goodies will be warm gloves, condoms, massage oil, and a teddy bear.

"There's a few things the women need and a few gifts as well, like candy canes and chocolate body paint," said Carol-Lynn Strachan, who's also an advocate for Edmonton prostitutes.

"It's to let them know someone actually cares. Many are beaten down and degraded. The public looks down on us and people throw things," she said. "These are sisters, mothers and daughters. They deserve better and Christmas is when their spirits need a boost most."

Strachan has already handed out 75 baskets - which cost her about $20 each - and will walk the city's hooker strolls for the next two weeks until she's given at least 75 more.

"The reaction I get ranges from completely stunned to tears and gratitude," Strachan said. "I get lots of hugs."

Wallis Kendal of the iHuman Youth Society works with teen prostitutes and said Strachan's baskets are a wonderful gift.

"Addicts will sell some of the things, but condoms are highly prized. They're expensive and the girls need them."

During the holidays, Wallis gives hookers "necessity gifts" like toothbrushes, underwear and good quality makeup.

"Among the most valuable gifts we give the girls are certificates for some food at McDonald's or A&W," he said.

Kate Quinn of the Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation said her organization, with the help of the city police and RCMP, also give the women Christmas gifts.

"Project KARE hands out personal care items, chocolates and gloves on Christmas Eve. Any outreach is affirmation that these women are part of the human community."

Next year Strachan hopes to enlist corporate sponsors, including grocery stores and fast food restaurants, to supply vouchers for the love baskets.

"It would be nice to involve a seniors group too," she said. "Some who knit scarves and toques for the needy might be interested in helping us, too, I hope."

Copyright © 2006, Canoe Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 13

Missing women reward extended for another year

Dec, 13 2006 - 5:50 PM

VANCOUVER/CKNW(AM980) - As expected, a 100-thousand dollar reward for information about the Vancouver's ongoing missing women investigation has been extended for one more year.

Even though the man accused of killing some of those women --Robert Pickton-- is set to stand trial on January 8th, deputy chief Doug Lepard says it’s important to keep the investigation going.

"There is still extensive investigation ongoing, but there is also investigation going on into the remaining women that are on that list who have not been found --at least symbolically it’s important that we keep that case in the public eye. That as a matter of respect, we need those names out there."

Lepard says none of the reward money can be handed out before someone is successfully convicted of killing the women.

Evidence will be 'graphic, distressing'

Justice James Williams said the Pickton trial could start slightly later than expected

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CREDIT: Felicity Don Illustration, The Vancouver Sun
Robert Pickton in court.

Potential jurors for the Robert (Willie) Pickton serial murder trial were warned that the evidence in the case will be "graphic and distressing," that the trial may not start on time and it could last longer than a year.

Those were among the comments Justice James Williams made to the potential jurors who gathered in New Westminster Supreme Court Monday and Tuesday for the first public stage of a criminal trial that will be one of the longest and most complicated in Canadian history.

"Given the nature of the allegations against Mr. Pickton, the evidence will at times be quite graphic and distressing. At other times it will be somewhat technical and complex, concerning scientific matters such as DNA," Williams said.

"Serving on this jury will not be a holiday; it will involve a great deal of hard work."

And although he didn't elaborate, Williams also hinted at the challenge lawyers still face in preparing for the complicated trial, even though it's been five years since Pickton's arrest.

He said the trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 8, 2007, could start slightly later than expected.

"There is also a possibility there may be some delay at the start of the trial, but if there is, I suspect it will only be in the order of a week or two," Williams said.

He said the trial has been estimated to last 12 months, but could run longer.

Despite Williams's warning to the group, it took just two days to find 14 people -- 12 jurors and two alternates -- willing to weigh the fate of Pickton, who is accused of being Canada's worst serial killer.

"Two days to select a jury in a case like this when there has been so much [media] exposure is pretty good, is pretty efficient. I thought things went quite well," lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie told reporters outside court.

"I think the people who are on this jury appear to be very fair, very fair in their approach to this case. A number of them expressed that they approach this case with an open mind and have not reached conclusions."

The 14 people were chosen from just 68 candidates -- a small percentage of the 473 potential jurors scheduled to attend court this week and next for the jury selection process. The list of 473 had been whittled down from an initial group of 3,500 Lower Mainland residents who received a summons for the case.

The main jurors are seven men and five women, whose occupations include bartending, studying and physiotherapy. Five of them are retired.

Two of the men appear to be in their 30s or 40s, while the remaining five have grey hair and appear to be 60 or older.

The five women range in age from the early 20s to older than 60.

The alternate jurors are a man who appears to be in his 30s, and a woman who appears to be in her 40s. They will only serve on the jury if any of the first 12 bow out before the start of the trial.

As part of the screening process, the potential jurors were given a long list of names of people with some connection to the massive case, to ensure they didn't know anyone. It was not revealed how long the list was, but Williams jokingly said -- without the jurors in the room -- that it was big enough to be the "Penticton phone book." It contained at least 1,074 names, because person No. 1,074 was referred to once during the proceedings.

Williams acknowledged that asking citizens to do jury duty is an inconvenience, but he said it benefits society because jurors bring "common sense and everyday reason" to the justice system.

He told the potential jurors they should approach their task with no fear, favour or prejudice, and base any verdict "solely on the evidence that they see and hear in the courtroom ... What is crucial is that you are able to set aside any opinion or any feelings and decide this case solely on the evidence presented in the courtroom."

He also told them that the questions asked of them in court were to determine issues such as their personal interest in the case, if they knew anyone involved in the case, any personal hardship they would face because of serving on the jury, or any other valid reason that would make them unsuitable to serve on the jury.

© The Vancouver Sun 2006

Tuesday, December 12

Jury selection complete for Pickton trial

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun, CanWest News Service
Tuesday, December 12, 2006

CREDIT: Stuart Davis/Vancouver Sun
Lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie has represented Robert Pickton since his arrest in February 2002. He is shown here prior to entering court.

LOWER MAINLAND -- Potential jurors for the Robert (Willie) Pickton serial murder trial were warned that the evidence in the case will be "graphic and distressing," and that the trial may be delayed from starting on time and could last longer than a year.

Those were among the comments Justice James Williams gave to the 473 potential jurors who gathered in New Westminster Supreme Court Monday and today for the first public stage of a criminal trial that will be one of the longest and most complicated in Canadian history.

"Given the nature of the allegations against Mr. Pickton, the evidence will at times be quite graphic and distressing. At other times it will be somewhat technical and complex, concerning scientific matters such as DNA," Williams said.

"Serving on this jury will not be a holiday, it will involve a great deal of hard work."

And although he didn't elaborate, Williams also hinted at the challenge facing lawyers to get ready for this complicated trial, despite almost five years passing since Pickton was arrested. He said the trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 8, 2007, could be late in starting.

"There is also a possibility there may be some delay at the start of the trial, but if there is I suspect it will only be in the order of a week or two," Williams said.

He added the trial has been estimated to last 12 months, but could run longer.

Despite Williams' warning to the group, it took just two days to find 14 people - 12 jurors and two alternates - willing to weigh the fate of Robert (Willie) Pickton, who is accused of being Canada's worst serial killer.

"Two days to select a jury in a case like this when there has been so much [media] exposure is pretty good, is pretty efficient. I thought things went quite well," said lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie.

"I think the people who are on this jury appear to be very fair, very fair in their approach to this case. A number of them expressed that they approach this case with an open mind and have not reached conclusions."

The 14-member jury was chosen from just 68 candidates - a small percentage of the 473 potential jurors who were scheduled to attend court this week and next for the jury selection process. The list of 473 had been whittled down from an initial group of 3,500 Lower Mainland residents who received summons for this case.

The 12 main jurors are seven men and five women, whose occupations include a bartender, a student and a physiotherapist. Five of them are retired.

Two of the men appear to be in their 30s or 40s, while the remaining five have grey hair and appear to be 60 or older. The five women range in age from the early 20s to older than 60.

The alternate jurors are a man who appears to be in his 30s, and a woman who appears to be in her 40s. They will only serve on the jury if one of the first 12 bow out before the start of the trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 8.
Vancouver Sun

© CanWest News Service 2006

Sunday, December 10

Alberta woman to attend Pickton trial

Niece’s remains found on pig farm

By MICHELLE MARK, Edmonton Sun
December 10, 2006
The aunt of an Alberta woman whose remains were discovered on Robert Pickton’s B.C. pig farm says his not-guilty plea in her murder only makes her hate him even more.

The pig farmer is accused of 26 counts of first-degree murder. His trial on six counts - including the death of Enoch resident Georgina Papin - begins Jan. 8.

With hopes of attending at least the beginning of the trial herself, Pauline Papin said she doesn’t think she’ll be able to look Pickton in the eye as he sits in the prisoner’s box.
“I don’t think I can do it,” she said. “There’s going to be too much anger. It wasn’t her time to go.”

But after four years of waiting, Papin said she’s relieved Pickton’s trial is finally just a few weeks away.

“It’s emotional for me,” she said, fighting back tears. “We can’t even get (Georgina’s) remains until this trial is over. I’m glad this is finally starting and I can only hope that justice will prevail.”

She also said it breaks her heart that the case highlights Georgina as a prostitute when she was so much more.

“These women are still human beings no matter what they do,” she said.

For the first trial, Pickton is accused of killing Papin, Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe and Marnie Frey.


Close to 500 people remain potential jurors in Pickton trial

By Neal Hall and Lori Culbert
CanWest News Service
Saturday, December 09, 2006

It took three and a half hours Saturday for 473 potential jurors to be processed through the Supreme Court at New Westminster, in the first stage of selecting a jury for Robert (Willie) Pickton's serial murder trial.

As the hearing began at 10 a.m., Pickton stood in the prisoner's box and repeated "Not guilty, your honour" six times in a quiet voice as he was asked if he had committed the first-degree murder of: Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.
A court sheriff stands guard outside B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C., while potential jurors for the trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton wait to enter the courthouse, Saturday, December 9, 2006. The judge addressed the potential jurors today and selection will begin Monday.Photograph by : CP PHOTO/Richard Lam

More than 473 potential jurors arrived at the courthouse Saturday, but several were excused before the 10 a.m. procedure got underway because they had various reasons that they said prohibited them from sitting on the jury of one of Canada's longest criminal trials.

One man, leaving the courthouse, said he told the sheriffs that he had a broken back, which prevented him sitting for long periods of time.

Another woman who was excused said outside court that she left because she has a disability that causes concentration problems.

(Media outlets have been ordered by the court to not identify any potential jurors until the final panel of 12 jurors and two alternates have been selected.)

Justice James Williams thanked the remaining 473 for participating in the jury selection process, calling it an "ancient and honoured tradition" in our society.

By 1:15 p.m. Monday, the 473 potential jurors were divided into groups of 30, and told to return to the courthouse on specific dates between Dec. 11 and Dec. 20.

They will be asked a series of questions on those days, with the intent to find 12 jurors and two alternates. The alternates will be dismissed if they are not needed by the start of the trial, which is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2007.

Outside court Saturday, lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie praised court sheriffs for making the process Saturday stream-lined and efficient, and remained optimistic that 12 "fair-minded" people could be found in a few days to hear his client's case.

Many potential jurors who spoke to The Sun as they entered court Saturday morning said they would be willing to serve as a juror for the murder trial, despite the fact it might last a year and could contain disturbing evidence.

A 47-year-old woman said she would have no problem sitting on the jury. "A year is long but it's perfectly fine for me," she said.

Asked if the expected graphic testimony about murders would bother her, she replied:"I used to work in a hospital emergency room and the morgue for 10 years, so I've seen it all. I've seen everything."

But another man, who said he was a trucker, said he didn't want to be picked as a juror because a year-long trial would be difficult. "Too long," he said.

On Monday, jurors will be asked if they have any reasons they will not be able to sit on the jury, such as any hardship a year-long trial could cause.

The judge will also ask jurors if they can be impartial. The 473 were whittled down from a list of 3,500 randomly selected Lower Mainland residents who received summonses to be potential jurors.

Saturday was one of the largest gatherings of potential jurors in B.C. history.

Pickton is charged with 26 murder counts but 20 were severed by the trial judge last summer and will be dealt with in a separate trial. The judge decided a trial on 26 counts would be an unreasonable burden on the jury because it would take too long. The Crown has alleged that all the women disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

© CanWest News Service 2006

Saturday, December 9

The break in the 'missing women' case

The break in the 'missing women' case

Updated: Fri. Dec. 8 2006 8:16 PM ET

It was February 7, 2002, and the phone rang in the middle of the night. At the time, I was CTV's national reporter in Vancouver. CTV's overnight desk in Toronto was calling to say the police had sealed off a farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C. and it may have something to do with Vancouver's missing women.

By four o'clock that morning, I was standing on a dirt road outside the large, ramshackle farm with dozens of reporters and photographers. It was grim scene, and there were many grim thoughts to go with it. There was yellow tape everywhere, and the police weren't saying much.
All we knew was the farm belonged to a couple of brothers named Pickton and the police were executing a search warrant -- relating to the 50 or so women who were missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside.

It was a story that had been percolating for years in B.C.'s Lower Mainland -- a story that had, for the most part, been downplayed or outright ignored.

The farm became a sad shrine to the missing women -- with flowers, pictures and notes placed outside the rickety gates.

Dozens of young women, most drug-addicted prostitutes, had gone missing. Some hadn't been heard from for years. On that cold dirt road, their story was suddenly front and centre. The thoughts and speculation of what may have happened to some of them at that pig farm were simply horrifying.

Robert Pickton was soon arrested and charged with the first degree murder of two women, a number that would eventually grow. The police began a massive job, sifting through tons of dirt and farm debris.

The farm became a sad shrine to the missing women -- with flowers, pictures and notes placed outside the rickety gates. The U.S. media descended on Vancouver, hoping for a sensational story about a serial killer.

Kathy Tomlinson reports from in front of the farm.

The women's friends and relatives shook their heads -- amazed their heartbreak was now international news, after they'd felt ignored for so long.

They were ordinary Canadian families, torn up by extraordinary tragedy. First, they'd lost their daughters to drug addiction and prostitution on the ugly streets of Vancouver's downtown eastside. Then, they lost them altogether, when they vanished without explanation. Mothers, boyfriends, sisters and fathers had been holding vigils and writing stories on websites for years -- trying to get the police to take them more seriously -- and trying to get other Canadians to notice.

What those families had to say suddenly took on huge, new significance. Lynn Frey, mother of Marnie, told me she had been pestering the Vancouver police for years, pleading with them to probe deeper.

Lynn Frey, mother of Marnie, spoke to CTV when the case broke

Frey had been searching for Marnie since she went missing in 1997. Frey told me she felt the police just didn't take her information seriously. Frey's family eventually filed a lawsuit against the Vancouver police, over their early handling of the case.

Deborah Jardine was another mother who sat at her kitchen table and told me her sad story of frustration and anger with police. Jardine's 27-year-old daughter Angela was mentally challenged and had the intellect of a 10-year-old. She went missing in 1998.

Deborah Jardine sat at her kitchen table and shared her sad story

Jardine showed me meticulous records, including audiotapes, of all her interactions with police. She said Angela had been gone for more a month before they even began treating her as a missing person. Jardine dug up whatever information she could, and passed it all on to the police. She told me they rarely responded and, when they did, made her feel like a pariah for badgering them.

Former Vancouver police Staff Sergeant Doug MacKay Dunn worked on the downtown eastside at the time the women went missing. In an interview, he told me the police didn't want to commit the significant resources needed for an in-depth investigation.

At one point, there was only one Vancouver police employee assigned to the case full time -- a woman who took the calls from family members.

Another former Vancouver police officer, Kim Rossmo, told me in an interview he had warned his colleagues in 1999 -- almost three years before Pickton was arrested -- that he believed a single, serial killer was likely responsible for the women's disappearances. Rossmo has expertise as a geographic profiler, examining complex criminal cases, like serial killings, to identify patterns. He told me Vancouver police essentially dismissed his theories as hocus pocus.

The police had a jurisdictional problem as well. Most of the women went missing from Vancouver, but the Pickton farm is in Port Coquitlam, which is RCMP jurisdiction. Vancouver police officers told me there was talk of putting the farm under full time surveillance in the late 1990's, but that idea was dismissed, partly because it is RCMP territory. I was told Vancouver police didn't want to commit the resources on their own. The RCMP didn't get involved in the case, in any significant way, until 2001.

The overriding factor, though, that makes the whole case so heartbreaking, is how little attention the missing women's case got overall, until the day the search began in 2002.

The police see violence between prostitutes and johns all the time in Vancouver's downtown eastside. They also see the women come and go without explanation. Now, with hindsight, there are the critics and the lawsuits and the "I told you so's". At the time, though, it wasn't just police who weren't making much noise about the missing women -- neither were the media.

Aside from a few exceptions, like Lindsay Kines and Kim Bolan from the Vancouver Sun, most reporters didn't give the situation much thought. What the police told us made sense -- that these were transient women, with sad, screwed up lives, who would likely turn up sometime -- probably in another city -- likely still working the streets. This was not a case that had garnered huge attention and culminated in the arrest of Robert Pickton. It was a story that went from zero-to-60 in one day, the day the search started on that Port Coquitlam farm.

Kathy Tomlinson now leads Whistleblower, CTV's investigative unit. She can be reached at: whistleblower@ctv.ca

© Copyright 2006 CTV Inc.
LINK: Pickton tape given to police in 1998

Families brace for Pickton trial

Relatives express anger, frustration as jury selection gets under way in sensational case

Globe and Mail
December 9, 2006

VANCOUVER -- They have waited for years for the start of the trial of Robert Pickton on charges of murdering their daughter, Marnie Frey.

But as the process of jury selection for the Pickton trial begins today, Lynn and Rick Frey are angrier than ever.

Time heals nothing, Mr. Frey said in an interview from his home on Vancouver Island.

They had to push the authorities to investigate their daughter's disappearance in 1997, he said.

They had to prod officials to find out what happened to their daughter after Mr. Pickton was arrested in 2002.

Now they are fighting over whether the coroner can issue a death certificate and when their daughter's remains will be handed over to them.

The Freys want to know how she died and whether she suffered. "Where is she? Can we get her remains so we can carry on with our life?" Mr. Frey said.

The family has been told her remains will not be available until after the court case.

"It keeps going through our mind, why the hell not?" he said. "We do not know where our daughter's remains are. Locked up in some little closet in some warehouse or something, probably."

Lynn Frey said she is looking for accountability, for justice, her stepdaughter's remains and a death certificate.

"Then I will feel relief and I'll be done. Until then, nothing has changed," Ms. Frey said.

The sensational case moves into a new phase with the start of the selection of the jury, almost five years after Mr. Pickton was arrested in February, 2002.

Mr. Pickton, 57, has been charged with murder in the deaths of 26 women. Most of them worked as street prostitutes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, one of the country's poorest neighbourhoods.

If convicted on all charges, Mr. Pickton would become one of the worst serial killers in North American history. British Columbia Supreme Court Judge James Williams in August decided a trial on 26 murder charges would impose "an unreasonable burden" on jury members. He split up the charges into two groups. A trial involving six of the murder charges begins on Jan. 8.

The six women were Ms. Frey, Andrea Joesbury, Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Georgina Papin and Brenda Wolfe.

The trial is expected to stir deep passions that have been muted since Mr. Pickton's arrest, mostly as a result of a court order that kept details of the deaths and the tepid police investigation out of the public eye.

Mr. Pickton, a pig farmer in the Vancouver bedroom community of Port Coquitlam, was arrested after a huge public outcry over the disappearance of dozens of women during the previous decade. Grisly media accounts of events have already attracted international attention, inspired emotional songs and been retold in film.

The search for 12 impartial jurors begins this morning under tight security with as many as 600 people expected at the courthouse in New Westminster. Mr. Pickton, who has been in custody since his arrest, will watch the proceedings from the prisoner's box.

After opening remarks from Judge Williams, the pool of prospective jurors will be divided into smaller groups and told to return beginning Monday morning.

Judge Williams has said he anticipates that almost everyone who will be called as a potential juror will have been exposed to substantial reporting of events and the investigation that led up to the trial.

However, the Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that a juror's mind is not required to be a blank slate and jurors are not required to jettison all opinions when they step into the jury box.

The law in Canada is in marked contrast to the familiar features of the U.S. law, as portrayed on television and reflected in several high-profile cases.

The U.S. system treats all members of the jury pool as suspect at first glance. The U.S. allows for pretrial publication bans to protect the jury pool from pretrial publicity. As a result, prospective jurors can be subjected to much more extensive questioning than is permitted in Canada, often of a highly personal nature.

Canada allows for pretrial publication bans. The court presumes the trial process and the judge's instruction to the jury, along with limited questioning of prospective jurors, will result in chosen jurors being able to set aside any biases so they can reach a verdict based solely on the evidence heard in court.

Friends and relatives of the dead women do not speak with one voice. Some have gone on with their lives, while others remain steeped in every aspect of the case and said in interviews they were bracing for what they might hear during the trial.

Some refused to speak to the media; others wanted to talk about their frustration with the slow pace of the court system.

"It's going to be nice to have some kind of an ending," said Jack Cummer, the grandfather of Ms. Joesbury, who disappeared in June, 2001, at age 22.

However, Mr. Cummer expressed concern for those who expected the trial to provide "closure" to their daughter's or granddaughter's death.

"They will not really get closure with a situation like this. That's crazy. That is between me and God. That is where it all comes from," he said.

Mr. Cummer, who tried unsuccessfully to launch a fundraising campaign for a safe house for abused women, was also skeptical about public expressions of support and sympathy for the plight of the women.

He wondered whether parents were using rumours linked to the case to scare their children into behaving better.

"Parents probably say to their children, 'if you don't behave yourself, you are going to be just like those drunken girls down in the Eastside of Vancouver,' " he said.

The women were portrayed for years in the media "as such rotten individuals, drug-addicted prostitutes," he said.

More recently, the women are presented as murdered children, he added.

"But I don't think the public is the least bit interested in them," Mr. Cummer said. "I think they should just get the trial over with."

Ken Garley, a foster parent to Mona Wilson for several years, has little patience for the slow pace of justice.

"This has been going on for far too long," he said in an interview. "It should have been over a long time ago."

Ms. Wilson was last seen in November, 2001. She was 26.

Mr. Garley, 76, remembers his final conversation with Ms. Wilson about a month before she disappeared. Ms. Wilson was upbeat, optimistic about positive changes in her life.

But he tries not to think about the case in court.

"You cannot sit there and dwell on it. If you start dwelling on it, you may want to take matters in your own hands," he said.

Wayne Leng pushed authorities in the late 1990s to search for his friend Sarah de Vries and for other missing women. He moved away from Vancouver in 2000, but has remained in contact with the families of numerous missing women.

With a comprehensive website that posts up-to-date news, he is probably among the most familiar with the issues related to the missing women.

However even he has become exhausted by the protracted process. "It's burn-out," he said.

"It's been going on for 10 years. It just sort of never ends. Look at this trial that could last up to a year, and then another trial [for the remaining 20 charges]. It's numbing."

He described the current mood among the families as sombre.

"There's a stress level, anxiety, pain and suffering. And now with the trial, the families have been warned what to expect, have been told it is going to be horrible and advised not to go," he said.

Mr. Frey said he was "disgusted" with how the families have been treated.

"It is just not what you would expect for families who have been put through this traumatic tragedy," he said.

He recalled being in the courtroom during the preliminary hearing, when the court was considering whether the evidence was sufficient for the murder charges to go to trial. They were not given any warning about what was going to be presented in court.

"They should have said this next person will talk about your daughter. If you want to stay here, fine, but just be ready. When [the lawyer] got up and said what they found, my wife just about collapsed."

Susanne Dahlin, spokesperson for the victim services program, said the provincial government has a team of support workers for victims of crime.

The program paid expenses for family members to attend court for five days during the pretrial phase. Officials are considering changes for the trial itself.

But victim services staff cannot warn families about what is going to come up in court, she said. The process is unpredictable, changing often as the trial proceeds.

Mr. Frey said he expected more from the government's victim services program, especially in helping arrange grief counsellors. He said he remains bitter. His daughter's death is always going through his mind.

"There is not a day goes by you do not think about it. And then some days are even worse," he said.

Pickton timeline

Feb. 14, 1991
First annual women's day memorial march is organized to press for police investigation into missing women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Sudden increase in number of women disappearing.

Aug. 30, 1997
Marnie Frey, 27, disappears.

Another sudden increase in the number of missing women. Families and relatives raise alarm about a possible serial killer in the Downtown Eastside. Vancouver police review files of missing women going back to 1971; announce they do not believe a serial killer is behind the disappearances.

March, 1999
Georgina Papin and Brenda Wolfe disappear.

April 28, 1999
In response to public concern, Vancouver Police Board offers a $100,000-reward for information about 27 women who had gone missing since 1978.

Another spike in the number of missing women. Andrea Joesbury, 22, last seen on June 5, 2001; Sereena Abotsway, 29, last seen in July, 2001; Mona Wilson, 26, last seen on Dec. 1, 2001.

February, 2002
Feb 5: Police begin search of Pickton property for unregistered firearms, abruptly stop the search and return the following day with a search warrant for items related to the missing women.

Feb 7: Pickton charged with possession of unregistered firearms.

Feb 23: Pickton is charged with the murders of Mona Wilson and Sereena Abotsway.

April 9, 2002
Pickton is charged with the murder of Andrea Joesbury.

May 22, 2002
Pickton is charged with the murder of Brenda Wolfe.

Sept. 19, 2002
Pickton is charged with the murder of Georgina Papin.

May 25, 2005
Police announce more murder charges, including the murder of Marnie Frey. Pickton now faces 27 murder charges

Jan. 30, 2006
Pickton pleads not guilty to 26 charges of murder.

March 2, 2006
Judge rules that vague wording about the timing of death of an unidentified woman called Jane Doe does not allow Pickton to defend himself properly; Murder charge is dismissed, reducing the number of murder charges to 26.

Aug. 9, 2006
Judge splits the case into a group of six charges and a group of 20 charges.

Sept. 8, 2006
Prosecution says it will go ahead in a first trial with six charges of murder in the deaths of Marnie Frey, Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury, Sereena Abotsway and Mona Wilson.

Dec. 9, 2006
Potential jury members called to courthouse for selection process.

Jan. 8, 2007
Trial before jury to begin.


Jury selection
How the search for 12 impartial jurors will be conducted in the Robert Pickton case:

Saturday, Dec. 9:
Sheriff's office sends out 3,500 summonses to people chosen at random from the voters' list.
Six hundred people expected to show up at the courthouse; they are to be seated in locations throughout the building and linked by video to the Pickton courtroom.

The judge will make a few opening remarks; Robert Pickton to be formally charged with six murders; he enters a plea.

The name of each prospective juror is written on a card. The cards are put in a box and thoroughly shaken. The court clerk draws cards from the box.

As names are drawn, the individuals take a seat in the courtroom. Once a group of 30 is gathered, the judge tells them when to return and they leave. The entire group of 600 is processed in that fashion.

Monday, Dec. 11:
The first group of 30 returns at 9:30 a.m. The process is held in open court with Mr. Pickton in the prisoner's box but a publication ban prohibits the media from providing contemporary reports of the court proceedings. Persons are excused if a year-long trial would be a hardship, if they could be in conflict because they know someone involved with the trial, or if they are viewed as not impartial.

Each person fills out a questionnaire to determine whether serving on the jury is a hardship. The questions deal with family, financial and health considerations. The prospective jurors are shown a list of names of persons connected to the case and the police investigation to identify any conflicts.

The group picks two people to serve as "initial triers" who will play a role in the process of challenging the impartiality of prospective jurors.

Each prospective juror appears before the judge who asks whether he or she faces any hardship. If not, the judge asks questions, formulated by the prosecution and defence lawyers, intended to determine whether he or she is impartial.

The initial triers listen to the answers and decide whether the person is acceptable as a juror. If acceptable to the initial triers, the prospective juror is evaluated by the defence and the prosecution without any further questioning or comment. Each side can reject 22 prospective jurors.

If the prospective juror is not challenged, he or she goes to sit in the jury box and is sworn as a member of the jury. The first juror replaces one of the two initial triers, who returns to the jury pool. The second person selected as a juror takes over for the remaining initial trier.

The process is repeated until 12 people are selected as jurors and two more as alternates. The alternates remain as part of the jury until the trial begins on Jan. 8, 2007. At least 10 jurors are required for the trial to continue to verdict. If more than two jurors drop out during the year as a result of illness or any other reason, the proceeding will be declared a mistrial.

Jury search doesn't ease family's paint

Globe and Mail
December 9, 2006

VANCOUVER -- They have waited for years for the start of the trial of Robert Pickton on charges of murdering their daughter, Marnie Frey.

But as the process of jury selection for the Pickton trial begins today, Lynn and Rick Frey are angrier than ever. Time heals nothing, Mr. Frey said in an interview from his home on Vancouver Island.

They had to push authorities to investigate their daughter's disappearance in 1997, he said.

They had to prod officials to find out what happened to their daughter after Mr. Pickton was arrested in 2002.

Now they are fighting over whether the coroner can issue a death certificate and when their daughter's remains will be handed over to them. The family has been told her remains will not be available until after the court case. "We do not know where our daughter's remains are," he said. "Locked up in some little closet in some warehouse or something, probably."

The sensational case moves into a new phase with the start of the selection of the jury, almost five years after Mr. Pickton's arrest.

Mr. Pickton, 57, has been charged with murder in the deaths of 26 women. Most of them worked as prostitutes in Vancouver's impoverished Downtown Eastside. The charges were split into two groups, and Mr. Pickton faces a trial involving six charges beginning Jan. 8.

The search for 12 impartial jurors begins this morning under tight security with as many as 600 people expected at the courthouse in New Westminster.

© Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 8

Trial set to begin for pig farmer who could be Canada's worst serial killer

The Associated Press
Friday, December 8, 2006
VANCOUVER, British Columbia

The women began disappearing from Vancouver's seediest streets in the 1980s, hookers and dope addicts abandoned on the margins of society. Desperate friends and families were outraged when the police appeared to do little to find them.

Now, the man accused of murdering at least 26 of those missing women is finally going to trial. Jury selection was to begin Saturday for the case against Robert "Willie" Pickton, a pig farmer who, if convicted of all the murders, would become the worst serial killer in Canadian history.

Some 600 potential jurors were being called in Saturday. Justice James Williams has ruled that the trial will be divided into two parts, with the first six counts being tried first.

The gruesome allegations against Pickton fall under a publication ban which prevents the media from revealing details of the alleged crimes until opening arguments on Jan. 8.

Journalists covering the preliminary hearings have been so haunted by the courtroom revelations that some have sought psychological help to deal with their anxiety and nightmares.

What can be reported is that Pickton, 56, was arrested in February 2002 by police investigating the disappearances of sex-trade workers from Vancouver's grubby Downtown Eastside district.

Health officials later issued a tainted-meat advisory to neighbors who may have bought pork from his farm, concerned the meat may have contained human remains.

Pickton and his brother, Dave, used to throw parties at the hog farm in a barn they had dubbed the "Piggy Palace," telling neighbors they were raising money for charity. Investigators, however, have said the parties were drunken raves with prostitutes and plenty of drugs and booze.

After Pickton was arrested and the first traces of DNA of some of the missing women were allegedly found on the farm, the buildings were razed and the province spent an estimated C$70 million (US$61, or €45) to excavate and sift through acres (hectares) of soil looking for bones and other evidence.

Friends and family of the missing women say those who survived tell horror stories about what took place at the 7-hectare (17-acre) pig farm outside Vancouver in Port Coquitlam.

"We deal with stories out here that would blow your mind; this story is just the apex," said the Rev. Ruth Wright of the First United Church in the heart of the Downtown Eastside, the most impoverished neighborhood in all of Canada, where the average life span does not even reach 40.

She knew seven of the victims in her decade of work in the neighborhood, where heroin addicts and sex workers line up in front of her mission for a hot meal, a foot bath or free toiletries, to sleep on the church pews, or seek legal advice and help finding a job.

"I deal with it quite well, until somebody from the outside like you comes along," Wright said when asked how she copes with the loss. "I know that tonight I will have the dreams."

Wright remembers with sadness Sereena Abotsway, a sweet-faced prostitute who was 29 when she disappeared in August 2001, shortly after marching at the front of a parade demanding the city help find the missing women. Though the publication ban prevents reporting the details of what prosecutors believe happened to Abotsway, the first count of murder against Pickton is in her name and investigators have said that her DNA was found on the farm.

"She was very childlike, very gentle," Wright says of Abotsway. "The last conversation I had with her, she was holding a teddy bear. She loved stuffed animals."

Wright, relatives of the missing women and others who work or live on the streets of the Downtown Eastside say the city and police ignored their plight until the media began investigations of their own and relatives began holding demonstrations demanding answers.

"I knew a lot of the girls who said they went out to Pickton's to party; that he'd ask them to do weird sexual stuff," said Deanna Wilvers, a 25-year-old drug user and prostitute who said she has been on the streets since she was 16. She said she was close to Jacqueline McDonnell, one of Pickton's alleged victims who was 22 when she disappeared.

"He did it the right way though with those pigs, eh?" said Wilvers, alluding to how Pickton is rumored to have disposed of some of the bodies. "But I don't think he did it by himself."

Neither does Wright and others who have closely followed the case. They are angry that other suspects have not been named in the murders and that it took so long for Pickton to be charged.

But Constable Catherine Galliford of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Joint Task Force told a news conference in March 2002, just after Pickton was arrested and public criticism had peaked, that their resources were limited and the magnitude of the case overwhelming.

"The very sad truth is that horrible things are happening everyday to women who work the streets," she said. "This investigation into missing women is forcing light onto a part of our society that traditionally resides in the very dark shadows."

The task force says it has located at least 102 women believed to be missing. Another 67 women remain on the list, as well as three unidentified DNA profiles from the Pickton farm.

If Pickton is found guilty, he would be the worst serial killer in Canadian history, claiming more victims that Clifford Olson, who pleaded guilty to killing 11 children in British Columbia in 1982.
Hastings Street runs through the Downtown Eastside and leads straight out to the Pickton farm 18 miles (29 kilometers) east of Vancouver. Canadian historians say Hastings is the original Skid Road, where logs once skidded down a so-called corduroy road to the Pacific for shipping.

The farm out in the bedroom community of Port Coquitlam is now surrounded by wire fence, the conveyor belts used to sift the soil for bones are rusting.

Most of the ramshackle homes that surround the farm are being torn down for townhouses.
Those who remain on the road alongside the farm live behind chain-link fences guarded by Rottweilers and declined to talk.

Dave Pickton, flagged down in his flatbed truck, gave a friendly laugh through his long beard but said he did not care to discuss his brother. He would only say that he was now hoping to raise cattle on the property before driving on down the road.

In the cramped 35-seat courtroom in New Westminster, Pickton has sat day after day for preliminary hearings over the past year in a specially built defendant's box surrounded by bulletproof glass. The clean-shaven man with a bald crown and shoulder-length hair barely moves, though occasionally he chuckles to himself or scribbles in a notebook.

Maggie de Vries, whose sister Sarah disappeared in 1998, though her DNA was later found at the Pickton farm, said she hopes the public will remember the women as sisters, mothers and daughters, and not simply sex workers and drug dealers undeserving of respect.

She told an Ontario newspaper, The Record, that she likes to remember a letter written by 10-year-old Sarah about her Halloween costume, swimming lessons and gymnastics teacher.

"It was just so chatty, full of so much life and enthusiasm and talent," said de Vries. "I think it challenges people's perceptions about who women are who work on the street. They don't imagine them being a 10-year-old who wanted to dress up as a black cat for Halloween."
Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver contributed to this report.
First United Church: http://www.firstunited.ca/
Site devoted to the missing women: http://www.missingpeople.net/
RCMP missing women joint task force: http://www.rcmp-bcmedia.ca/missing_women