Pickton trial opens in New Westminster

January 23, 2007

The jury trial of the Robert Pickton, accused of murdering 26 women, opened Monday under tight security in a New Westminster B.C. Supreme Court chambers.

Outside in the rain, hordes of reporters and news crews from organizations around the world had tents and television trucks set up for the first day of evidence.

Pickton, 57, earlier formally pleaded not guilty to the six first-degree murder charges heís facing for this trial.

He has been charged with a total of 26 counts of murder, but the other 20 cases will not be heard until later.

Itís the worst alleged serial killer case in Canadian history.

Geoffrey Gaul, director of legal services for the Attorney Generalís criminal justice branch, said the judge was concerned about the juryís ability to absorb all the evidence in 26 murders, and his decision does not reflect on the strength of the Crownís case in any of them.

Picktonís defence lawyers asked for the trial to be divided, and prosecutors could seek to divide it further by splitting up the 20 counts, Gaul said.

Pickton has been in jail for four years.

The six charges are in connection to the deaths of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe and Marnie Frey.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice James Williams earlier warned jurors to expect a drawn-out and often horrifying process saying, "The task of serving on this trial will not be an easy one."

Williams could not predict how long the trial would last but itís expected the case could last up to a year.

Peter Ritchie, Picktonís lawyer, said the length of the trial may be strenuous for the 12 jurors and two alternates. If the jury panel falls under 10 members, it would result in a mistrial.

The Chilliwack Progress will continue to provide coverage of the trial in the weeks and months ahead, beginning this Friday.

© Copyright 2007 Chilliwack Progress




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