Pickton murder trial delays elicit frustration

Canadian Press

Sunday, Dec 19, 2004

VANCOUVER Family members of the alleged victims of accused B.C. serial killer Robert William Pickton are frustrated by continued delays in getting a date for the case to go to trial.

Lawyers will be in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday to try for a third time to set a trial date for the man accused of killing 15 women.

It's something the victims' families would like to see happen so they can have some closure and move on with their lives.

But a date might not be set, said Crown spokesman Geoffrey Gaul. He said it's a waiting game.

"It is an interim appearance. No indictment has been filed yet,'' Gaul said. '' I don't know specifically what will be the result on Monday.

"Could there be discussion of a trial date? Yes, that's obviously one issue of interest that will need to be addressed at some point. That issue might be addressed on Monday.''

Since the end of a lengthy preliminary hearing in July 2003, Pickton, 55, has appeared twice in New Westminster B.C. Supreme Court to try to set a trial date.

Both times, he has appeared by closed-circuit television.

While Pickton is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder connected to some of the missing women from Vancouver's tough Downtown Eastside, the Crown has said it expects to add another seven counts before he goes on trial next year.

First on the list of the additional seven is the death of Marnie Frey. She disappeared Aug. 30, 1997, her 24th birthday. Her DNA was identified at Pickton's pig farm in November 2002.

Delays in getting the case to trial are a source of extreme frustration for her mother, Lynn Frey.

"I realize that the (joint police) task force and prosecutors and all those people have to do their jobs but this has gone on too, too long. Enough is enough. Let's get into court and get this thing going.''

"I want accountability and I want justice. You're damned right I'm mad. Marnie will never be at rest until this whole court case is over.''

Police said in October their probe of the farm owned by Pickton and his siblings has turned up 31 separate DNA samples.

Police made the disclosure as they added eight more names to the list of missing women, bringing the total to 69.

Pickton has been in custody since his arrest Feb. 7, 2002, when police descended on the farm and other property he and his family owned.

Dozens of investigators, aided by forensic anthropologists, took apart every building on the pig farm and sifted through hundreds of tonnes of dirt looking for evidence.

Frey is also critical of the decision to hold the trial in New Westminster, where the is undergoing a $600,000 renovation.

In the courtroom where the Pickton case is expected to be heard, the ventilation and heating system has been replaced because it was too noisy, and a floor-to-ceiling barrier stands between observers and the lawyers, judge and witnesses.

The renovations also include a new metal detector and "search station'' at the front entrance.

When renovations are complete, the courtroom and an annex will be able to seat about 120 people.

Frey wants to know why the case can't be heard in the $7.2-million courtroom where the Air India bombing case recently concluded. The high-tech, high-security courtroom seats 149 and a closed circuit feed can be sent to nearby annex rooms.

"Why on God's green earth are they spending more taxpayers' money to set up a place in New Westminster when they've got everything ready ... in Vancouver where Air India was?

"Are they that busy with serial killers?''

Gaul, however, said where the case is heard is ultimately up to the courts but added the area where the alleged crimes occurred falls under the jurisdiction of the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

Gaul couldn't rule out the case being moved.

"Is it possible? Sure, it's possible but that's speculative,'' he said.

The investigation into the missing women didn't gather momentum until the creation of the joint Vancouver police-RCMP task force in September 2001, years after the women began disappearing.

Vancouver police came in for stiff criticism for playing down the disappearances, saying many could be the result of the women's transient lifestyle, and dismissing the theory a serial killer was at work.

Canadian Press



Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016