Not any more

Crown drops remaining 20 murder charges against Pickton

In Canada on August 4, 2010 at 20:28

Crown prosecutors have officially stayed the remaining 20 murder charges against serial killer Robert Pickton and the judge in the case has lifted most of the publication bans in the case.

That means many of the shocking details kept from the public for years can now be revealed — including how the Crown dropped charges of attempted murder against Pickton in 1997, before many of his victims went missing.

The lifting of the bans also means that, in the next few days, the public will be able to see Pickton’s videotaped statement to police for the first time.

Media lawyer Rob Anderson said the lifting of the bans should help the public better understand the case.

"What’s important is for the public, through the media, to form their own opinion … about how the investigation was conducted (and) how the prosecution was conducted," he said.

Crown prosecutor Melissa Gillespie formally stayed the remaining 20 charges against Pickton shortly after 4 p.m. during a hearing at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster Wednesday.

Pickton was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against giving Pickton a new trial and B.C. Crown indicated then that they didn’t plan to proceed with the remaining 20 murder charges against Pickton.

However, that didn’t officially occur until Wednesday, when Crown formally stayed the charges.

"I can’t imagine that’s ever happened in the history of Canada – where 20 first-degree murder charges were stayed in one day," Anderson said outside court.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said outside court the decision to stay the 20 charges was a difficult one.

One main consideration, he said, is that Pickton is already serving the maximum sentence of life with no parole for 25 years.

With the court proceedings against Pickton essentially over, B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams lifted most of the remaining publication bans in the case.

A few remain, including one on the identity of the woman Pickton was charged with attacking in 1997.

Crown lawyers spent hours Wednesday going through the various complicated bans in place in the case.

"I thought the trial was complicated," said Williams. "I had no idea this would be as much fun as it is."

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.

Williams 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.

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.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


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