VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Funding deal will allow Pickton hearing to start Monday
Defence given resources required for hearing expected to take months
Kim Bolan and Lindsay Kines
Friday, January 10, 2003
Another funding agreement has been reached between the legal team for accused serial killer Robert (Willy) Pickton and the B.C. government, allowing the evidence in Pickton's preliminary hearing to finally begin Monday.
CREDIT: Jane Wolsak, Canadian Press
An artist's drawing shows accused serial killer Robert Pickton in court.
Defence lawyer Marilyn Sandford told provincial court Judge David Stone that an agreement was reached earlier this week for an undisclosed level of funding that will carry the defence team through a preliminary hearing that is expected to last months.
"We are just happy to have it put behind us and to move on and to have the resources we need and the staff we need to do a proper defence," Sandford said.
For months, defence lawyers and the B.C. government have been wrangling over how much money should be provided to assist Pickton's legal team.
The Port Coquitlam man is facing 15 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of women who were on a long list of those missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
For 11 months, investigators have been sifting through soil and examining every object on Pickton's Dominion Avenue farm.
What they have found will be presented over the next four months in a preliminary hearing that is expected to attract international attention.
While there is a ban on publication of evidence for Canadian reporters, Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie said there are still concerns American reporters might breach the ban via the Internet.
Family of Cindy Feliks told her DNA has been found at pig farm.
"We'll always keep an eye on it. The police will keep an eye on it," he said outside court.
Petrie said the Crown is "pleased to get the case going."
Sandford said the length of time scheduled is not that great considering there are 15 murder charges.
"There are a lot of lengthy matters in the courts that we as defence lawyers are quite used to spending months at a time in preliminary hearings."
In court, Sandford said defence lawyers still have some concerns about disclosure of evidence.
She said some material received so far is so heavily edited that her team cannot even tell what is being discussed.
Petrie said the Crown is working to complete outstanding disclosure as soon as possible.
There were more than 200 potential witnesses at one point, but Petrie said it is impossible to know how many will be called.
The courtroom is expected to be packed Monday with reporters from across North America and relatives of Pickton's alleged victims.
The latest relative to learn that her loved one's DNA has been found at the Pickton farm said she has no plans to attend the preliminary hearing next week.
"I would rather go to the trial itself," Marilyn Kraft said Thursday in a telephone interview from Calgary. "I really don't want to see this guy."
Kraft learned last month that the DNA of her step-daughter, Cindy Feliks, had been located at the farm. She does not know what type of DNA had been found or whether she will be able to get a death certificate.
Police didn't want to hurt the investigation, Kraft said. "They haven't charged him with her murder, yet."
Kraft believes the Crown stopped laying murder charges against Pickton to prevent further delays in the court case.
"I can only assume that if they kept charging him with all the DNA that they kept finding that it would put off the pre-trial. And so they capped it at 15 [charges]."
Police have found the DNA of three other missing women at the farm without laying charges against Pickton.
Kraft, who retired from the department of fisheries and oceans and moved to Calgary from Surrey last year, expressed frustration with the lack of information she has received about her step-daughter's case and the way it was handled by police from the outset.
"We notified them in 1997 that she was gone, that we knew something had happened," Kraft said. "And they didn't put her on the missing list until 2001."
Now, she would like to have a memorial for Cindy, but doesn't know whether she will receive confirmation of her death.
"Even talking to the coroner, I couldn't even get from him whether remains had been found or what had been found, whether it was clothing or something. I'm assuming it was some type of remains, but he wouldn't tell me."
RCMP Constable Catherine Galliford, of the joint police missing women's task force, said police have been in touch with other relatives of Feliks.
"We have recently been involved in conversations with the immediate family of Cindy Feliks," Galliford said, though she said those discussions are private.
Any concerns Kraft has can be addressed to the task force, she said. "We will be contacting Mrs. Kraft," Galliford said.
Kraft said she last saw Cindy at Christmas in 1996 and spoke to her on the telephone a couple of times in 1997.
"I talked to her on the phone twice, and the next thing I know her daughter was phoning, asking if I'd seen her mom. And her sister kept phoning, because Cindy used to always call me when she was in trouble."
By then, Cindy was working the streets in Vancouver and Burnaby to support a drug habit. Occasionally, she would tell Kraft about her "bad tricks."
"Some of them were pretty scary, but she was a fighter. ... She never let anybody get the best of her."
But when Cindy's friends began calling to say they had not seen her, Kraft knew something was wrong. "She wasn't anywhere around, nobody had seen her, she wasn't in her usual haunts. We just said, 'Oh, oh, something's going on.'"
Kraft, who raised Cindy from the time she was five years old, along with her two brothers and sister, described her as a beautiful girl who loved life. She attended school in Kitsilano and Surrey, and was a competitive swimmer before getting into drugs at 16.
"What can I say? Except for the drugs that took over a lot of her life and made her an old lady before she really was ... I remember her as a mother who had a beautiful little girl, who loved the little girl ... a good daughter and a good sister.
"I was looking through some of her school pictures last night actually -- some of her elementary school pictures. You know how they get their class pictures? And I thought it would be nice to have her back."
© Copyright 2003 Vancouver Sun
Updated: January 01, 2007