Kin of deceased was offered talk with Pickton judge

Police officer suggested voicing concern about splitting trial in two, sister says

September 22, 2006

VANCOUVER -- A police officer offered to arrange a phone call between a relative of an alleged victim of Robert Pickton and the judge in the notorious serial murder case, the relative said yesterday.

Lilliane Beaudoin, sister of Diane Rock, was upset with a recent ruling by Mr. Justice James Williams, of B.C. Supreme Court. The judge had split the murder charges against Mr. Pickton into a group of six and a group of 20. The prosecution team announced it will go ahead with the six murder charges in January and leave the rest for a second trial.

Ms. Rock, who disappeared months before Mr. Pickton was arrested, was not included in the group of charges that will go to trial in January.

Ms. Beaudoin received a call from a police officer on Vancouver's Missing Women Task Force shortly after Judge Williams released his ruling.

The female officer suggested Ms. Beaudoin could speak to Judge Williams to express her concerns about the splitting of the charges, Ms. Beaudoin said.

"This is what [the officer] said to me on the phone, that there was a possibility I could have a phone-to-phone conversation with the judge to express my feelings on the matter," Ms. Beaudoin said. "I just said why, so he could dance circles around me? She said, it's just to express my feelings.

"I told her, sure, if it was possible, I would go for it. And I have not received any phone calls from anyone from Vancouver since," she said.

Pardeep Purewal, a spokeswoman for the provincial government's victim services program, said she could not confirm that an offer was made to speak with the judge in the case. "We have no information [about an offer], and [speaking to the judge] would not be appropriate," Ms. Purewal said.

Ms. Beaudoin declined to identify the officer who spoke to her. She said it occurred to her at the time that the offer was unusual. But the officer said she hoped other family members would do the same thing, Ms. Beaudoin said.

The failure of anyone to phone Ms. Beaudoin back has added to her anger. "I have not heard anything, so I guess it is not going to go forward," she said.

Ms. Purewal said yesterday victims' families who were troubled with the ruling dividing the charges were offered a special meeting with Crown prosecutors.

The family members were told that the lawyers were available to meet with them, she said. A formal meeting has not yet been held, but prosecutors have spoken to some families who requested it, she said.

Mr. Pickton was arrested in February, 2002. His trial began last Jan. 30 with Judge Williams considering the admissibility of evidence. A jury is to be selected in December for a trial beginning Jan. 8.

Not everyone feels as Ms. Beaudoin does about the split. Others with relatives in the group set for a second trial were not interested at this time in speaking to anyone involved in the case.

Deborah Jardine, the mother of Angela Jardine, who disappeared in 1998, said she was initially bothered by her daughter's case being delayed, but now believes it was "for the best."

"I was awake for quite a few nights trying to theorize what may be taking place and rationalize it," she stated in an e-mail response to questions.

She assumed the evidence against the six was critical and could set a pattern of serial killing for the outstanding cases. And she understood that the jury will be under considerable pressure.

"We certainly don't need a mistrial or something to go wrong halfway through it," she said.

But she hasn't lost her faith in the system. "I strongly believe it will all come together in time," Ms. Jardine said.

Pat DeVries, mother of Sarah DeVries who also disappeared in 1998, said yesterday she remains content to let the process unfold. "I heartily approve," she said in an interview.

"I am not worrying about who, what or when she was killed. I know it was gruesome and I know it happened."

Meanwhile, an expert in serial murder cases said the ruling to split the charges into two trials was highly unusual.

"I cannot think of another trial when something like that has happened," said Kim Rossmo, who has been involved in more than 30 serial killing cases. Mr. Rossmo, a former Vancouver policeman, is a research professor in the criminal justice department at Texas State University.

"It's very common-sensical [to keep the charges together in one trial]. Maybe not common-sensical in the world of lawyers. But for the rest of us. I think that is why people are having trouble understanding this decision," Mr. Rossmo said.

Copyright 2006 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Family takes issue with ruling in Pickton case;
Diane Rock's sister says Accused killer should be tried on all 26 counts of first-degree murder

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