Crown formally splits charges against Robert Pickton; files two indictments

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

VANCOUVER (CP) - The Crown has formally split the charges against accused serial killer Robert Pickton into two cases, commiting him to one trial on six murder charges and a second trial on the remaining 20.

Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said two direct indictments were filed Wednesday.

Earlier this summer, the judge in the case recommended splitting it in two to make the trial more manageable for a jury and the Crown agreed.

"We said (last month) we would be filing the indictments in due course so they've just been filed. It's an administrative and jurisdictional matter," said Lowe.

The Crown had confirmed last month that Pickton would face trial on only six counts of first-degree murder when a jury begins hearing the case in January. A trial on 20 others will follow later.

Originally, Pickton had been charged on one indictment with murdering 26 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years.

Pickton's trial began in January and has been hearing arguments by the Crown and defence about what evidence can be put before the jury when it begins listening to witnesses' testimony in January.

"The only indictment that will be before the jury (in January) will be six counts," said Lowe. "(The judge) may mention that there are other counts and that he ordered severance (of the remaining 20). It's up to the judge to mention what he wishes to mention."

In his ruling, Justice James Williams said a trial on 26 counts of murder all at once would be too much for jurors to comprehend and would drag the case on needlessly.

Williams ruled the split was necessary in "the interests of justice" and that the evidence in the six cases is "materially different" than in the other 20 cases.

The six-count indictment filed Wednesday charges Pickton, 56, with the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.

Jurors are to be selected in December.

The other 20 women named in the second indictment include Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Kerry Koski, Wendy Crawford, Debra Lynne Jones, Tiffany Drew, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Diana Melnick, Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock, Heather Bottomley, Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.

 The Canadian Press 2006



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