Pickton's hearing to proceed: Judge

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

The preliminary hearing of accused serial killer Robert Pickton will go ahead next Tuesday regardless of how much the government pays for his defence.

Felicity Don, The Canadian Press

Artist's sketch shows Robert Pickton in Port Coquitlam court.

Despite intense legal wrangling over defence funding in B.C. Supreme Court yesterday, and a closed-court hearing slated for today, Port Coquitlam provincial court judge David Stone was adamant that Pickton's hearing proceed Nov. 12.

"I understand the difficulties you've raised . . . and I feel these things can be dealt with as the preliminary hearing proceeds," Stone told Peter Ritchie, who resigned as Pickton's lawyer Oct. 11 but appeared yesterday as a friend of the court.

"I'm saying we will proceed one way or another."

Ritchie is arguing his case for more government funding for Pickton's defence in a separate application before B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm.

Gerry Kahrmann, The Province.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is among the missing, said the squabble over funding is disgraceful.

Crown counsel Michael Petrie said he will seek a publication ban for the preliminary hearing and may call witnesses.

Pickton, 53, who is accused of killing 15 of 63 women missing from the Downtown Eastside, sat through two court hearings yesterday.

In the morning, he lounged in a comfortable chair behind bulletproof glass in the Port Coquitlam courtroom, where security has been beefed up. He wore a grey sweater and black pants, and a jacket which he removed as he came into the courtroom, slinging it over the back of his chair.

He made little eye contact with his alleged victims' relatives, sitting just steps away, but nodded occasionally and shook his head in denial as Ritchie referred to the 15 murder charges.

Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn vanished in 2000, said outside court he found "this squabbling over funding disgraceful."

"They are putting our lives on hold while they argue over money and I'm thankful this judge said he will proceed."

Also in the courtroom were Jack and Laila Cummer, grandparents of alleged murder victim Andrea Joesbury. "[Pickton] looks cynical . . . smug," said Cummer.

"I feel mostly loathing. Andrea was a beautiful girl, a little lady when she was young. We loved her dearly.

"The last time she ever called, she was excited she'd been invited to a party. Now I wonder where that party was."

In the afternoon, Pickton was back in his orange prison jumpsuit on a video monitor, appearing bored and dozy as Ritchie called two witnesses, both lawyers, in B.C. Supreme Court to bolster his argument that the government offer is "preposterous" and inadequate.

The Attorney-General's Ministry has offered two senior lawyers at $150 an hour, a junior lawyer at $125 an hour and 500 hours of legal research at $75 an hour as well as 500 hours of research by private investigators.

Lawyer Gordon Turriff, who specializes in determining what lawyers should charge, said a first-year lawyer in his firm gets $150 an hour and that some senior lawyers like Ritchie earn $500 an hour.

Turriff said based on the government's "unreasonable" offer, no skilled defence lawyer would handle Pickton's defence.

Ritchie said he is asking for only $200 an hour but needs a team of six lawyers and can't get anyone to work under the government cap of $125 an hour for only 37 hours a week. 

 Copyright 2002 The Province

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Updated: August 21, 2016