Saturday, July 31

Serial killer Pickton denied new trial

Last Updated: July 31, 2010 4:32am
OTTAWA - Convicted serial killer Robert Pickton will remain locked up in prison for murdering six women despite allegedly boasting he's killed 49.
The B.C. Crown announced Friday it will move quickly to stay the 20 outstanding murder charges Pickton faces after the Supreme Court upheld his six second-degree murder convictions and rejected his request for a new trial.
"I feel betrayed by the justice system," said Lilliane Beaudoin, whose sister Dianne Rock was one of the 20 remaining cases and the fourth woman Pickton was charged with killing. "They are just washing their hands of the remaining 20 families."
"I really wish they would have pursued it, even though it would have been gruesome, long and costly, but to the means having justice for our loved ones," Beaudoin told QMI Agency.
Families of the six murdered women whose cases were prosecuted were able to receive closure, she said. "Now, we'll never have that."
Gregory Fitch, the director of criminal appeals and special prosecutions in B.C., said he knows many family members are upset but the Crown needed to weigh the wider public interest.
"It's a very difficult decision," Fitch said. "Even if we were to successfully prosecute Mr. Pickton on the outstanding 20 counts, it would not result in any greater penalty. He is already subject to the maximum sentence permitted under Canadian law."
Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six second-degree murder charges for the killing of six sex-trade workers on his Port Coquitlam, B.C., farm. He was sentenced to life in prison without any possibility of parole for 25 years.
His lawyers appealed his conviction to Canada's top court. They argued the trial judge had undermined the fairness of Pickton's trial when he told jurors during deliberations they could also find Pickton guilty if they believed he "actively participated" in the murders.
The jury had asked B.C. Supreme Court judge James Williams whether they could find him guilty if they only believed he "acted indirectly."
The prosecution had maintained Pickton acted alone when he shot and killed the women he'd lured to his pig farm from Vancouver's downtown east side and Williams initially instructed the jury if they had reasonable doubts Pickton was the sole killer, they had to find him not guilty.
Pickton's lawyer, Gil McKinnon, said Williams' last-minute instructions changed the "goal posts," giving jurors a wider net to convict his client.
On Friday, the Supreme Court said Williams had erred, but in his first instruction to the jury and since he had corrected himself, there was no miscarriage of justice.
Justice Denis LeBel even suggested that a properly instructed jury would likely have convicted Pickton of first-degree murder rather than second-degree murder.
"This was a long and difficult trial -- but it was also a fair one," LeBel wrote. "Despite the errors set out above, there was no miscarriage of justice occasioned by the trial proceedings. Mr. Pickton was entitled to the same measure of justice as any other person in this country. He received it. He is not entitled to more."
Tammy Papin, whose sister Georgina Papin was one of the women Pickton was convicted of killing, said she's relieved the legal saga is finally over.
"Now Georgina can rest," the Edmonton woman said, her voice heavy with sadness. "It's over. It's over."
Georgina's remains, which have been kept as evidence, can at last be brought home and laid to rest with her mother at Ermineskin, Alta.
"There's such a sense of relief," said Cynthia Cardinal, another of Georgina's sisters. "It's a good day. Maybe now we can honour Georgina by moving on with our lives."
Calling Pickton a "monster," Vancouver deputy police chief Doug LePard said the case would always haunt him and he apologized to the families.
"We're sorry from the bottoms of our hearts that we didn't catch him sooner and protect more women from being harmed," he said.
The Vancouver police, the RCMP and many of the victims' family members are calling for a public inquiry.
- With files from Cassandra Drudi and Andrew Hanon
Copyright © 2010 Toronto SunAll Rights Reserved

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Justice won't be done for too many in the Pickton case

Drawing of Robert Pickton in court with judge James Williams on the bench.
Photograph by: Felicity Don, Special To The Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER — Serial killer Robert “Willie” Pickton now can be bundled off to penitentiary where hopefully he will suffer the tortures of the damned.

The long-awaited 9-0 Supreme Court decision upholding his six murder convictions finally condemns the country’s most despicable and most prolific serial killer.

It was an expected result.

In spite of misinformation given to his jury, the high bench agreed the overwhelming evidence left no doubt of Pickton’s guilt and a retrial was unnecessary.

Unfortunately, the families of 20 of his other victims — 20! — must forego closure and justice. Eight years after his arrest and the initial revelations of his sanguinary crimes, that’s what ultimately galls.

After one of the most expensive and exhaustive forensic investigations in history, after five years of complicated and even more costly legal wrangling, after an arduous 11-month trial that ended in 2007, we must live with a terrible residue.

Justice won’t be done for too many.

The B.C. Crown said it expects to stay the remaining charges against the now-60-year-old Pickton.
For good reason.

A new trial would mean another recitation of his heinous deeds, another round of hellish detail — his pig farm was a human abattoir, body parts and remains scattered everywhere.

It would mean more excruciatingly painful testimony and who knows how much court time — five years? 
And that’s not to mention that a key witness, one of 129 from the first trial, has died.
All that expense, all that pain.

“My feeling is a feeling of relief,” said Marilyn Kraft, stepmom to Cindy Feliks, whose DNA was found on the farm.

“I’m glad it’s all over. Thirteen years have gone by since Cindy was taken. Every time something comes up, I have to relive her death. I don’t need that any more. It’s been long enough. I’m not happy with it. But saying that I don’t think I could stand to go through another trial. It’s too hard.... I don’t need it. Glad it’s over. Glad he’s going to rot in prison.”

Pickton can receive no harsher punishment in Canada: life without parole eligibility for 25 years is as tough as we get.

A public inquiry would help us understand why the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP for so long seemed impotent of stopping this unholy killing spree.

There are innumerable unsettling questions swirling around the lack of official response to the disappearance of needy women from the Downtown Eastside throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

They must be answered and perhaps the soon-to-be-released VPD report on the investigation will shed some light on the department’s shameful performance.

I’m skeptical.

Nevertheless, for Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe and Georgina Papin — for them, justice has been done.

Now their remains can be released from the evidence vault, their families allowed to bid them goodbye and their spirits finally allowed to rest.

For the others, for their families — the legal system be damned.

They will find strength where they have always found it — within and among themselves.

That said, Pickton’s dark soulmate, Washington State Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, told the authorities everything before heading off to do his time.

Now that his fate is sealed, perhaps “Willie” will finally do the right thing: Man up, confess and deliver us from this unspeakable horror.

He could give the heart-broken families the closure they need and dispel our nagging ugly fear that he did not act alone.

Don’t hold your breath.

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Friday, July 30

Ruling sparks calls for public inquiry into investigation - Pickton


Ruling sparks calls for public inquiry into investigation

The Supreme Court of Canada has denied an appeal for a new trial to convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.

The Supreme Court of Canada has denied an appeal for a new trial to convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.

Photograph by: File, Global News

The country’s top court slammed the door Friday on a bid by convicted serial killer Robert Pickton for a new trial — unanimously upholding the pig farmer’s convictions for murdering six missing Vancouver women.

The B.C. Crown announced immediately afterward that it will not proceed with 20 outstanding murder charges against Pickton, on the grounds that he is already serving the maximum sentence and that additional convictions would not add to his time behind bars.

The Supreme Court rejected Pickton’s contention that he didn’t get a fair trial and said the evidence against him was so overwhelming the jury came to the only verdict it could.

The ruling marks the end of the legal road for Pickton, 60, who was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years for a horrific killing spree at his Port Coquitlam farm.

But the court ruling fuelled anew the raw emotions felt by the loved ones of Pickton’s murdered and dismembered victims.

It also sparked another round of calls for a public inquiry into why it took so long to investigate and to track down the killer of women involved in the sex trade who had gone missing over a period of many years from Vancouver’s bereft Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on Friday strongly urged the province to launch an inquiry.
“There are many outstanding questions and the families of the victims and the public deserve truth, accountability, and reconciliation. To end the process now is unacceptable,” Robertson said.

Marilyn Kraft, the mother of Cindy Feliks, said Friday she wishes nothing but suffering for Pickton, who was charged but not tried for her daughter’s killing.

“I hope he gets a terminal cancer . . . and dies a long, horrible death,” said Kraft, 65, a retired federal fisheries administrator from Calgary.

Details about Feliks’ fate are still covered by a publication ban, and are among the most horrific in the case. “It haunts me,” Kraft said. “I’ve got no body to bury, no body to cremate, nothing. I just have my pictures and memories of her.”

The Supreme Court ruling will let Kraft put the horrors of her daughter’s death behind her, she said. “I’ve had enough and I’m getting older and I don’t need it anymore. I’ll never forget her, never, but it’s time to let go,” Kraft said.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn’s DNA was found at the Pickton farm, plans to start lobbying next week for a public inquiry in the Pickton case.

“What we can do is look in our own backyard and say, ‘How did this happen? How could it happen? What lessons can we learn?’ . . . so that if anything like this raises its head in the future we can address it,” the 61-year-old Chilliwack resident said Friday.

Crey said he was happy with the Supreme Court’s decision, as a new trial on all 26 counts would raise the possibility Pickton would go free.

“A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush,” Crey said. “The guy’s gone. He’ll never see the sidewalk.”

Last year, the RCMP recommended the Crown file six more murder charges against Pickton, in addition to the 26 he’d been charged with. Dawn Crey was among those six. She vanished in 2000, at age 43.

Crey said he plans to start contacting leaders of aboriginal and women’s groups next week and urge them to push the province for an inquiry. The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs on Thursday also called for an inquiry.

The Supreme Court ruling brought satisfaction to Jay Draayers, a 36-year-old ironworker on the new Port Mann Bridge whose sister Sereena Abotsway’s head, hands and feet were found in a pail in a freezer on the Pickton farm. Pickton was convicted of her second-degree murder.

“It would be nice if it was first-degree, but it makes no difference. He’s still going away for the same amount of time,” Draayers said, adding that the ruling didn’t diminish his sense of loss.
“Sereena’s birthday’s in 21 days,” he said.

For families of other missing women, the court’s decision produced mixed emotions.

Investigators told Sandra Gagnon that her sister Janet Henry’s life likely ended at the Pickton farm, but her DNA was never found there.

“It’s been a living nightmare for my family,” said Gagnon, of Maple Ridge. “I’m glad [Pickton] didn’t get his way. He’s such a pig. I’m sad about my sister, though, because he’s not going to have to answer for her.”

The investigation and prosecution has been costly. The bill for police costs alone has hit $122 million to date.

Neil McKenzie, a spokesman for the criminal justice branch of the attorney-general’s ministry, couldn’t give a total cost for the Pickton case.

He noted that in addition to police and prosecution costs, there are also court costs involved.
Jeff Dolan of the coroner’s service, said that death certificates have been issued for six victims who were the subject of the homicides at trial.

Their remains will now be returned, he said. Talks will be held with families of the victims in the outstanding 20 murder charges about those remains, he said.

— with files from Postmedia Network

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Pickton responsible for the death of at least 33 women; possibly 49 says RCMP

Kirk Makin and Robert MatasVancouver and Ottawa — Globe and Mail UpdatePublished on Friday, Jul. 30, 2010 9:47AM EDT
Last updated on Friday, Jul. 30, 2010 2:35PM EDT
Serial killer Robert Pickton is responsible for the death of at least 33 people and possibly as many as 49, RCMP Inspector Gary Shinkaruk told reporters in Vancouver Friday.
His comments followed news that Mr. Pickton’s conviction of six murders had been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Crown prosecutors believe the evidence is sufficient to convict Mr. Pickton of 21 additional murders. Police have recommended charges related to the death of six other women.
But his killing spree may have caught even more, Insp. Shinkaruk said.
Mr. Pickton has claimed to be responsible for the death of 49 women.
“We are actively investigating to identify those 16 people,” Insp. Shinkaruk said, adding that police believe it was important for the family of victims and the public to know what happened to those women.

“We are actively investigating to identify those 16 people,” Insp. Shinkaruk said, adding that police believe it was important for the family of victims and the public to know what happened to those women.

An exhibit from the Pickton trial, a poster board of 48 missing women shown to Pickton during the 11 hours interview on day after he was arrested. Names of those identified in court: #1 Sereena Abotsway; #3 Andrea Joesbury; #4 Mona Wilson; #17 Georgina Papin; #26 Marnie Frey; #48 Brenda Wolfe.
Earlier, spokesman for the prosecutors Neil MacKenzie said they do not intend to pursue the outstanding murder charges against Mr. Pickton, who received a life sentence with no parole for 25 years for the murder of six women. Mr. Pickton has already received a maximum sentence that is available under Canadian law, he said.
His sentence begins from his arrest on Feb. 22, 2002. Patrick Storey, a spokesman for the National Parole Board in the Pacific Region, said Mr. Pickton would be eligible for day parole and unescorted absences on Feb. 22, 2024 and he would be eligible for full parole on Feb. 22, 2027. He emphasized that, with a life sentencing hanging over his head, Mr. Pickton would not automatically receive parole.
Spokesmen from both the RCMP and Vancouver Police Department endorsed a call by families of the victims for a public inquiry into the investigation of the murder. Several women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside went missing before police began a formal investigation. Police initially told families throughout the 1990s that the woman may have voluntarily gone missing to change their lifestyle.
Doug LePard, deputy chief for the Vancouver police, offered an apology to the families. “I wish from the bottom of my heart that we had caught him sooner,” he said at a news conference.
None of the victims’ families were at the news conference.
Mr. LePard said he wished police could have done better and all the mistakes they made could be undone. “We’re sorry, from the bottom of our hearts,” he said.
B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong later told reporters the government has not yet reached a decision on whether to hold a public inquiry.
In response to questioning, he said he saw “very compelling reasons” to take a comprehensive look at all or parts of the investigation. But the government has not yet reviewed the internal reports completed by the RCMP and the Vancouver police department, he said. Nor has the cabinet discussed the matter, he added.
The RCMP and municipal police departments spent $122.6-million on their investigations, Al Macintyre, an assistant RCMP commissioner in charge of the criminal investigation, told reporters. Both the Vancouver police and the RCMP had internal reviews of how they handled the investigation, reporters were told. However neither police force was prepared to release the reports to the public.
Both the Crown and police expressed concern and gratitude to the dozens of families whose loved ones' remains were unearthed on Mr. Pickton's farm.
“We hope that this outcome provides them with some degree of comfort and some degree of closure. It has been a long process to reach this stage in the proceedings and we realize it has been difficult and it has required a great deal of patience on the part of family members,” Mr. MacKenzie said.
Earlier Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Vancouver pig farmer Robert Pickton's convictions in the gruesome murders of six women.
In a 9-0 ruling this morning, the Court said that the prosecution evidence against Mr. Pickton was "overwhelming," and it would constitute a grave mistake to grant him a retrial because of a judicial error that was ultimately cleared up.
The judgment nailed shut the most gruesome serial killing case in Canadian legal history.
"Certainly, this was a long and difficult trial — but it was also a fair one," Mr. Justice LeBel said.
"Despite the errors set out above, there was no miscarriage of justice occasioned by the trial proceedings. Mr. Pickton was entitled to the same measure of justice as any other person in this country. He received it. He is not entitled to more."
Convicted in 2007 on six charges of second-degree murder in the gruesome deaths of six Vancouver prostitutes and sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years, Mr. Pickton still faces another 20 counts of murder.
The B.C. Crown indicated several times since the trial that it would prosecute those additional murders if the Supreme Court were to order a new trial on the original six murder charges.
A painstaking police search of Mr. Pickton's farm uncovered human remains, DNA and other evidence that allegedly connected him to more than two dozen murders.
After an arduous case that consumed five years, featured 129 witnesses and included 1.3-million pages of documents, Mr. Pickton argued that he was not given a fair trial.
When the trial began, the Crown had portrayed Mr. Pickton as the sole killer. It alleged that he lured the women to his farm, shot them, butchered their bodies in his slaughterhouse and buried the remains in different locations.
The key question for the Supreme Court revolved around an incident on the sixth day of jury deliberations. The jury returned to ask the B.C. Supreme Court's Mr. Justice James Williams whether they could still convict Mr. Pickton if they decided that he had not acted alone.
The judge told the jury they could indeed find Mr. Pickton guilty, if he killed the women “or was otherwise an active participant” in the killings. He said that it would be sufficient for them to conclude that Mr. Pickton had “actively participated” in the murders.
Soon afterward, the jury convicted Mr. Pickton on all six counts in the deaths of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe and Marnie Frey.
However, Judge Williams’ instruction contradicted his original admonition – delivered prior to the jury deliberations – which stated that the Crown had to prove that Mr. Pickton had actually killed the women.
Today, the Supreme Court said that far from Mr. Pickton suffering, the judicial instruction had theoretically worked in his favour.
Writing for a six-judge faction of the Court, Madam Justice Louise Charron wrote that it was "completely erroneous in law" for the trial judge to have originally stated that the jury had to find Mr. Pickton was the actual shooter in order to convict him.
Backed by 2-1 judgment of the B.C. Court of Appeal in their favour, Crown counsel Gregory Fitch and John Gordon staunchly defended Judge Williams’s decision in the Supreme Court at a hearing last year. At the same time, they conceded that their colleagues had dropped the ball at trial by agreeing to have jurors told that Mr. Pickton could only be convicted of murdering six sex-trade workers if he was the actual killer.
However, she noted approvingly that, after the jury revealed its puzzlement through a question to the judge, he correctly retracted this element of his instruction. The judge told the jurors that Mr. Pickton could be equally guilty if he had been merely an active participant in the killings.
"This case was never about whether the accused had a minor role in the killing of the victims," Judge Charron added. "It was about whether or not he had actually killed them. The instructions as a whole adequately conveyed to the jury what it needed to know to consider the alternate routes to liability properly."
In his concurring reasons, written on behalf of Mr. Justice Ian Binnie and Mr. Justice Morris Fish, Judge LeBel said that the confusing jury instructions about the role Mr. Pickton had played in the murders augered strongly to his benefit.
"There was overwhelming evidence of the accused’s participation in the murders and, from whichever perspective his participation is considered, he was necessarily either a principal or an aider or abettor," Judge LeBel said. "Indeed, a properly instructed jury would likely have convicted the accused of first degree rather than second degree murder.
"On a review of the record, in my opinion, the Crown presented compelling, overwhelming evidence of the participation of Mr. Pickton in the murders. From whichever perspective we consider the participation of Mr. Pickton, on the evidence, he was necessarily either a principal or an aider or abettor. It would surpass belief that a properly instructed jury would not have found him guilty of murder in the presence of such cogent evidence of his involvement."
Read the full Supreme Court judgment
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Phillip Crawley, Publisher

CBC News - British Columbia - Pickton appeal ruling due Friday

CBC News - British Columbia - Pickton appeal ruling due Friday - Pickton decision comes today | THE CANADIAN PRESS - Breaking News, New Brunswick, Canada - Pickton decision comes today | THE CANADIAN PRESS - Breaking News, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, July 27

Supreme Court ruling on Robert Pickton appeal due Friday


Robert Pickton is seen in a screen capture from a 1996 video 

shot by BCTV News in connection with a story about property 

tax complaint connected to the farm. Photograph by: Global TV.

The Supreme Court of Canada will rule on Friday morning whether serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton's conviction will stand or if he will be granted a new trial.
In a news release Tuesday, the nation's top court announced it will release its ruling on Pickton's appeal at 6:45 a.m. Vancouver time on Friday.
Pickton, a Port Coquitlam pig farmer, was found guilty in December 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Marnie Frey, Sereena Abotsway, Georgina Papin, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe and Mona Wilson.
He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.
His victims disappeared from the Downtown Eastside from 1978 to 2001 and their butchered remains were found on his farm.
The B.C. Court of Appeal upheld Pickton's conviction last year, but one judge dissented, placing the issue before the nation's top court, where the two sides made their arguments in March.
A central issue in the case is whether Justice James Williams, who presided over the year-long trial, made a critical mistake when he instructed jury members they could still convict Pickton, even if they decided he did not act alone but that he "actively participated" in the murders.
The judge's assertion, in response to a jury question, contradicted his earlier instruction that the jury had to conclude that Pickton was the "actual shooter."
While the Crown maintained during the trial that Pickton acted alone, luring the women to his farm where he killed and butchered them, the defence argued Pickton's farm "was a beehive of activity" and that other people — such as his friends Dinah Taylor and Pat Casanova — could have killed the women.
The trial judge in Pickton's case granted a pre-trial defence application to sever the 26 murder counts into two trials — one on six counts and the other on 20 counts, with the Crown proceeding first on the six counts.
If Pickton's appeal is successful, the Crown has argued any new trial should proceed on all 26 counts of first-degree murder he is facing.
However, if Pickton's appeal is unsuccessful, the Crown intends to stay the remaining 20 murder charges against Pickton as he is already serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Many of the 20 additional family members have said they are devastated that Pickton may never be tried in court for their loved ones' deaths. Most families of the original six victims say they are dreading the thought of reliving another long, painful trial.
In October, police recommended the Crown charge Pickton with six new charges of first-degree murder, potentially bringing the number of murder counts he could face to 32.