Pickton team requests delay

Citing incomplete information, Peter Ritchie suggest reconvening in mid-December

Lori Culbert
Vancouver Sun

Friday, September 12, 2003

Defence lawyers representing Robert (Willy) Pickton are reluctant to agree on a date for his lengthy trial on charges he killed 15 women from the Downtown Eastside until police finish gathering evidence in the complex case.

CREDIT: Mark van Manen, Vancouver Sun. Lawyers Peter Ritchie (right) and associate Patrick McGowan (left)--representing Robert (Willy) Pickton--leave New Westminster court Thursday.

Pickton, accused of being Canada's worst serial killer, appeared by video-link from his jail cell for a brief hearing in New Westminster Supreme Court on Thursday, when defence lawyer Peter Ritchie requested they return to court Dec. 15 to consider setting a trial date.

"Until we know the extent of the case, until the investigation is complete, we are very reluctant to set the trial date. We expect that will happen within a couple of months," Ritchie said outside the courthouse.

He said he continues to receive evidence every day in "substantial amounts."

The missing women task force has been searching Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam since his arrest in February 2002, and has said it expects to conclude early this fall.

"We anticipated being out by this fall but having said that, it is difficult for us to speculate as to whether or not that is definitely going to happen," said RCMP Corporal Catherine Gallliford, who speaks for the joint RCMP-Vancouver police task force.

A television screen showed Pickton looking gaunt and pale, his balding head cocked to one side, as he sat nearly motionless for about 10 minutes waiting for the court proceedings to get start.

Crown counsel Michael Petrie said outside court that no decision has been made on filing any new charges.

At the close of Pickton's preliminary hearing, Port Coquitlam provincial court Judge David Stone said in his ruling that new evidence was heard during the six-month process regarding the murders of seven additional women.

It is likely the Crown would pursue any new charges by direct indictment, which means they would be added to the existing case and no preliminary hearing would be necessary.

Petrie said B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm would oversee Pickton's court dates until a permanent trial judge is appointed.

The trial, which is expected to last months, is not anticipated to start until the middle of next year at the earliest.

A sweeping publication ban prohibits reporting any evidence discussed during the preliminary hearing.

Pickton has been charged with the first degree murder of Patricia Johnson, Mona Wilson, Dianne Rock, Heather Bottomley, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving, Georgina Papin, Helen Hallmark, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Jacqueline McDonell, Heather Chinnock, Inga Hall and Jennifer Furminger.

Seven other women whose DNA has been found at the farm are Tiffany Drew, Sarah de Vries, Marnie Frey, Cindy Feliks, Angela Jardine, Diana Melnick and an unidentified woman the court is calls Jane Doe.

All 22 were sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside who struggled with drug addictions.

A total of 61 women are now on a list of people missing from the Downtown Eastside.

 Copyright  2003 Vancouver Sun

Pickton to appear in court for trial date-Sept 11, 2003



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

Updated: August 21, 2016