Accused serial killer returns to B.C. court for routine appearance

Canadian Press

Thursday, May 02, 2002

PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. (CP) - The lawyer for an accused serial killer told a provincial court judge Thursday he has already received thousands of pages of material from the Crown on the case but now wants to see a list of witnesses. Lawyer Peter Ritchie made the request as his client, Robert Pickton, watched and listened via a videolink from the facility where he is in custody.

Pickton, who only spoke when he was asked if he could hear the proceedings, sat motionless and expressionless in orange prison garb during the short court proceedings.

BCTV News on Global
Robert Pickton did not appear in person in court today.
Instead, he watched the proceedings via video, and his
reactions on a TV in the Courtroom.

He is charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of six of 50 women missing from Vancouver's drug-plagued downtown eastside.

Ritchie said the defence had so far been given about 5,000 pages of evidence by the Crown and was seeking more.

"It's a complex and vast amount of disclosure," said Ritchie. "A lot of the material we've received won't be important. Some of it will be very important."

Although the preliminary hearing is months away, Ritchie also asked the court to direct the Crown to provide him with a witness list.

"I need a witness list so we know how to prepare for this."

But Crown lawyer Michael Petrie said he could only provide a potential witness list by that time, not a final list.

"I'm not going to be in a position and wouldn't want to be in a position to provide a full witness list" by next month, Petrie said.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Sun reported Ritchie has placed a $375,000 lien on the Port Coquitlam property now being searched by police for evidence in connection with the case.

Ritchie filed the lien last month on the property, which is one-third owned by Pickton, according to records obtained from the B.C. Land Title Registry.

The move is "some security" against future legal costs, Ritchie said.

"We have no idea what legal expenses are going to be,' he said. "It is not all that unusual. It certainly does not indicate that's what the legal fees are."

The property is owned by Pickton and his brother and sister. It is assessed at more than $3 million, but Ritchie's is not the only debt against the property.

A lien has also been filed by Karin Joesbury, who launched a civil case last month against Pickton for the alleged murder of her daughter Andrea.

Pickton was scheduled to appear in court again June 11. His preliminary hearing doesn't start until November and could last as long as three months.

Police have been searching Pickton's Port Coquitlam farm, about 45 minutes east of Vancouver, for evidence since early February. Last month, police also began searching a nearby property owned by Pickton and his brothers.

The property includes a party hall run by Pickton and his brother dubbed Piggy's Palace.

Outside court, Sandra Gagnon expressed frustration with the pace of the case and the lack of knowledge about her missing sister, Janet Henry.

"There's nothing new," said Gagnon. "It's just dragging on. It gets to be aggravating."

Police have scheduled regular meetings with the families of the missing women and Gagnon said she understood the next meeting was set for the middle of the month.

"I want to have answers to what happened to my sister and find out so my family and I can have closure."

 Copyright  2002 The Canadian Press

Patricia Johnson last seen Feb 27, 2001



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