B.C. farmer’s lawyer quits over funding

Move means delay likely for preliminary hearing in missing women case

Dene Moore
Canadian Press

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

VANCOUVER — The lawyer for Robert Pickton quit the case today, saying he couldn't continue to defend the accused serial killer without funding from the B.C. government.

But Peter Ritchie said he would continue to represent Pickton in his effort to get funding.

Pickton, 52, is charged with the first-degree murders of 15 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Police say it is the largest serial-killing investigation in Canada.

Nearly 100 police officers, archeologists, anthropologists and other forensic experts continue to search Pickton's suburban Vancouver properties for evidence in the case.

Sixty-three women — including one transsexual — have gone missing from the streets of the Downtown Eastside since 1978. Thirty-eight of those women — all drug-addicted sex-trade workers — have disappeared in the last six years.

Pickton's preliminary hearing is set to begin Nov. 4 in provincial court, but Ritchie's resignation will likely mean a delay.

According to court documents, Pickton's brother has informed him he doesn't have the money to pay for his defence team. Ritchie has suggested it will take at least six lawyers to properly defend the accused serial killer.

He said Pickton is willing undergo a financial investigation and to turn over all his assets to the province.

That would include the suburban Vancouver farm a joint RCMP-Vancouver city police task force has been searching since February. They expect to be there for many months to come, as investigators, archeologists and anthropologists pore over every inch of ground looking for evidence.

But negotiations between the Attorney General's Ministry and Ritchie have not resulted in a funding agreement.

Officials from the ministry have said that they were awaiting more information concerning Pickton's financial situation.

Attorney General Geoff Plant was not immediately available for comment today, but has suggested there would be some funding for Pickton's defence.

The state has an obligation to provide funds if an accused cannot make full answer and defence to charges brought against them, Plant said last week.

"Our criminal process is about affording people the right to a fair trial," he said. "That obligation sometimes means the state also has to help provide the funds
 for the defence."

Related Links -  The Star

Flash: The missing women
Pickton faces four more charges (Oct. 2)
Another missing woman's DNA found (Sept. 17)
List of missing women grows (Mar. 29)
Investigation could last year: police (Mar. 21)
B.C. watchdog won't probe case (Mar. 19)
Family of missing woman views evidence (Mar. 10)

Courtesy of the Toronto Star



Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016