By ALTHIA RAJ, QMI AGENCY PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
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 families...it 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