Crown in Pickton murder case decides to go to trial on 26 charges, not 27

Greg Joyce
Canadian Press

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. (CP) - The trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton will proceed with 26 charges of first-degree murder after the Crown indicated Tuesday it will not contest a ruling last week that quashed one of the counts.

Justice James Williams quashed the charge involving an unidentified woman known only as Jane Doe. The B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the charge could not proceed because it failed to meet the minimum requirements set out in the Criminal Code.

Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said after reviewing the judge's ruling, prosecutors have decided not to launch an appeal of the ruling.

"The criminal justice branch has determined that in the context of the prosecution as a whole, the most prudent course of action is to focus on the remaining 26 counts of first-degree murder," Lowe said in a prepared statement from Victoria.

"Our focus is first and foremost on completing this trial. This has not in any way weakened our case."

The murder charges against Pickton relate to women who disappeared from Vancouver's drug-infested Downtown Eastside over a period of several years.

When Pickton entered his not guilty pleas on the trial's opening day, he pleaded not guilty, one by one, to 26 counts. His lawyers told the court he would not enter a plea to the Jane Doe count because they considered it flawed in the way it was drafted.

The court at that time entered a not guilty plea on the accused's behalf.

The trial has been underway since late January in this historic city next to the Fraser River that once served as the province's capital.

The proceedings, however, have been conducted so far under a publication ban as the Crown and defence make arguments about evidence.

The judge will make rulings on what evidence can be heard by a jury when one is selected later in the year.

Pickton attends each day, sitting in the prisoner's box behind a large group of Crown and defence lawyers.

Only a handful of reporters, some victims' services workers and a smattering of spectators attend each day.

Considerable expenditures were made to outfit the courtroom and an adjacent overflow courtroom with monitors and audio to follow the proceedings

 The Canadian Press 2006



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