Verdict a 'bittersweet' victory for victims' families

Updated Sun. Dec. 9 2007 10:53 PM ET News Staff

The verdict in the Pickton trial is "a bittersweet victory," the father of one of the murder victims told CTV News on Sunday.

Rick Frey, father of Marnie Frey, one of the six women Robert Pickton was found guilty of murdering in the second degree on Sunday, although relieved, sounded bitter about the lack of a first-degree verdict.

"When you murder six people over the length of time this guy did, if there wasn't a premeditation... I don't know."

"I actually lost my heart, it was in my stomach," said Marnie's stepmother Lynn Frey, describing her feeling when the initial verdict of not guilty in the first degree charge was read in court. "I was gasping for air, thinking that he was going to get off."

Steven Ricketts, Marnie's boyfriend and father of their 15-year-old daughter Brittney, also felt the verdict was "a little disheartening."

"I'm very disappointed. You have body parts in your back yard and you get second degree murder and a chance for parole? There's something wrong with that picture," he said. "He should never be eligible for parole."

"I'm feeling very angry right now," said Bernie Williams of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside organization, who told CTV News. She went on to suggest a public inquiry into the police investigation would be in order.

"This is not justice. This is shameful," she said.

Lynn Frey echoed the call for an inquiry.

"This is isn't over. I had a lot of questions that were never answered, and they will be answered," she said.

Elaine Allan, who worked at Women's Information Safe House until 2001 and knew five of the six victims, said her "heart just goes out to the families."

"I know they've been through hell. Sitting in the court house for the last 10 days, waiting for a verdict to come forward has been extremely difficult," she said.

Wayne Leng, a friend of murder victim Sarah de Vries who set up a toll-free phone tip line in 1998, was positive about the verdict.

"I'm overwhelmed right now, with this verdict just coming in" he said. "We're very grateful that this has happened."

Elana Papin, sister of victim Georgina Papin, was also grateful after hearing the jury's conviction.

"As soon as I heard the second count, and that he was found guilty, I looked at the jurors and said, 'Thank you,'" she said.

Joyce LaChance, aunt of Marnie Frey, said she never had any doubt of Pickton's guilt.

"I always knew it was him," she said. "This guy gave me the creeps."

"At least we have justice," Rick Frey said. "He's behind bars. And the biggest thing is that when all six convictions came in, that meant we can move on to the other 20 and possibly more. So hopefully there will be justice for everybody."

Family members of the victims took part in a vigil after leaving the courtroom, during which a somber song was played and candles were lit in honour of each of the victims.

"It was very calming," said Lynn Frey, who participated in the vigil.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Karin Joesbury, mother of victim Andrea Joesbury said she hopes her daughter's death "doesn't go in vain."

"And that it will change the way we look at those most vulnerable in our society. Because a lot of times we shove them, degrade them, pushing them to the streets, leaving them to predators like Pickton," she said to reporters.

Ricketts told CTV News that the ordeal of the trial has taken its toll, and will not be returning for the subsequent trial of Pickton for the murder of 20 other victims.

"I won't be back. This has been tough enough for myself and my daughter and our family," he said.


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