11 jurors chosen for Pickton murder trial in Jan.

Dec. 11 2006 8:24 PM ET News Staff

The Crown and defence have selected 11 jurors for the trial of accused B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton.

Artist's sketch shows accused Robert Pickton as he appeared in B.C. Supreme Court for his jury selection Monday December 11, 2006 in New Westminster, B.C. (CP / Artist / Jane Wolsak

Those selected Monday included a bartender, a part-time student, a worker with mentally challenged adults and several retired people, Canadian Press reported.

Six of those chosen are men and five are women. The process resumes Tuesday to choose three

Twelve jurors will sit through the trial, which starts Jan. 8 and is expected to last up to a year.

While 14 jurors -- 12 for the trial and two alternates -- are to be chosen, the alternates don't hear the evidence. Once the trial starts, they are dismissed and cannot be brought back onto the jury at a later time.

If the trial does go on for a year, jurors will be paid a maximum of about $17,000.

On Monday, Justice James Williams told those in the initial pool of 60 potential jurors what they could expect both in the trial and about the process of selecting a jury.

He wrote in a recent ruling: "The sacrifice that will be required of these particular jurors will be especially onerous. The duration of the trial will be long, the evidence will be complex and, at times, challenging, and the proceedings will be the subject of intense public and media scrutiny and attention."

The potential jurors entered the courtroom one by one. Williams and defence lawyer Peter Ritchie questioned them.

Defence lawyer Peter Ritchie (left) is accompanied by assistant Patrick McGowan as they make their way to B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C. on Monday. (CP / Chuck Stoody)

The Crown and defence lawyers have 22 chances each to reject a potential juror.

A publication ban issued by Williams prohibits the media from publishing any of the questions or answers until all jurors are selected.

In an earlier ruling that can be reported, the judge said jurors would be asked to complete a questionnaire. The form asked if they had any reason not to serve, such as financial hardship.

If the jury panel drops below 10 members, a mistrial is declared. Then the whole process would begin again.

Ritchie has expressed concern about keeping 12 people on a jury without having any alternates.

"Without having alternate jurors to sit on a trial, if someone gets ill or has some problems down the line, if we lose too many jurors, we have to stop and start again and that's a potentially very poor and inefficient system,'' Ritchie told The Canadian Press.

"I think of course we should revisit that in many cases, not just in this case.''

Tina Daenzer has some idea of what might be in store for the jurors. She was a juror in the Paul Bernardo murder trial.

"I think I was shell-shocked, is what it was. And it took me quite a while to get out of it," she told CTV News.

Jurors in that trial had to see tapes of Karla Homolka and Bernardo assaulting their teenage victims.

The charges

Pickton, a 57-year-old pig farmer, is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and will face another 20 counts at a later trial in the deaths of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

On Saturday, he pleaded not guilty to six counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe and Marnie Frey.

Police arrested Pickton in February 2002. His trial began in January 2006 with procedural arguments that are under a publication ban.

Many, but not all, of the women connected with the charges against Pickton were sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside.

With files from The Canadian Press

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