Media ban looms in Pickton preliminary

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) -- The preliminary hearing of accused serial killer Robert Pickton will get underway next month with arguments about what the media should hear.

Pickton, who appeared in court in person Wednesday, will return Dec. 2 when the provincial court judge will begin hearing procedural applications, including some concerning publication bans and access to the courtroom.

There is concern that U.S. media attending the trial will not obey any publication bans imposed by the court. Publication bans are normally imposed on preliminary hearings in Canada to prevent potential jurors from hearing information that may not be presented at trial.

Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, said the case has attracted international attention.

"There will be real problems trying to contain that information," Ritchie said outside court.

"The judge will have to consider whether he can close the courtroom completely. Whether that's acceptable ... no one really wants that."

Just a few family and friends of the missing women were in court for the brief appearance Wednesday.

The preliminary hearing was postponed earlier this month after an 11th-hour deal between his legal team and the province for legal aid funding.

Pickton, 53, has been charged with the murders of 15 of the 63 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. The list of missing women dates back to 1978 but 38 of the 63 women have disappeared in the last six years.

The pig farmer from this Vancouver suburb has been charged with killing Georgina Papin, Patricia Johnson, Jennifer Furminger, Mona Wilson, Diane Rock, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Heather Bottomley, Brenda Wolfe, Jacqueline McDonell, Tanya Holyk, Helen Hallmark, Sherry Irving, Heather Chinnock and Inga Hall.

Police have said more DNA has been found at the farm that has not yet been identified.

All of the missing women were drug-addicted prostitutes who disappeared from the poverty-stricken Vancouver neighbourhood.

In what police have dubbed the largest serial killer investigation in Canada, a task force of nearly 100 police, archeologists and other experts have been searching Pickton's farm since last February. They expect to be there for many months to come.

Police labs have been "burdened" by the number of exhibits that need to be identified, task force spokesman Const. Catherine Galliford has said.

And the list of missing women is still growing. Five names were added this fall and police continue to review cases from around the province.

There are four women police may add to the list soon.

Pickton now faces 15 charges of first-degree murder -- more than the number admitted to by Canada's most notorious serial killer, Clifford Olson.

 Copyright  2002 CP Broadcast News



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Updated: August 21, 2016