Preliminary hearing for accused serial killer Robert Pickton resumes Monday

Canadian Press

Friday, June 27, 2003

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) - Lawyers representing the Crown and former pig farmer Robert Pickton return to court Monday to resume the lengthy preliminary hearing for Canada's worst accused serial killer.

The hearing, before provincial court Judge David Stone, began Jan. 13 and continued almost uninterrupted until April 23, when Crown and defence lawyers agreed on the two-month adjournment. Lawyers for both sides told the judge before the adjournment that they expected to conclude the preliminary hearing with about three more weeks of court sessions.

Pickton, 53, is facing 15 charges of first-degree murder in connection with a long list of women, most of whom disappeared from a seedy stroll area favoured by the hookers in the rough-and-tumble Downtown Eastside over the past two decades.

The judge at the preliminary hearing determines whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial, which would be held in B.C. Supreme Court and not begin until sometime next year.

The hearing is taking place in one of the largest courtrooms in this Vancouver suburb's provincial court.

The testimony cannot be reported due to a publication ban, which is standard at preliminary hearings in Canada.

Despite the notoriety of the case and a long list of witnesses, the courtroom has rarely been crowded with spectators.

The notorious case was ignited by a massive police raid Feb. 6, 2002, on a farm owned by Pickton and his brother and sister. Pickton was charged with the first two of the 15 murders Feb. 22, 2002.

He is charged with the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Diane Rock, Jacqueline McDonell, Heather Bottomley, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Georgina Papin, Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.

The 15 women were among a total that eventually rose to 61 women from the Downtown Eastside. They were mostly drug-addicted prostitutes who disappeared from the poverty-stricken neighbourhood.

In March, police announced they were doubling the number of anthropology specialists searching the 5.6-hectare farm property, located a short drive from the courthouse.

The joint RCMP-Vancouver police task force said it would hire 51 anthropologists from across Canada to join the 52 who have been searching the property since June 3, 2002.

Their job is to thoroughly search the soil on the property and look for evidence such as human bone fragments.

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Updated: August 21, 2016