Pickton trial will finish ‘by end of year,’ says judge

Ethan Baron
CanWest News Service

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - Robert Pickton's murder trial will end much sooner than expected, the judge told the jury Tuesday.

"When we initially configured ourselves to do this trial I told you that we were looking at a trial probably in the area of a year's duration, and it could be longer," Justice James Williams said. "This trial's not going to last a year."

Pickton's trial on the first six of 26 murder counts started Jan. 22. Williams said it has proceeded "quite efficiently" and will be over "significantly in advance of the end of the year."

"It brings to mind the Bing Crosby song, You'll Be Home for Christmas," Williams said, substituting "You'll" for the song's "I'll."

Williams told the seven men and five women on the jury that Pickton's friend Gina Houston, who testified earlier, is scheduled to return to the witness stand Thursday. And on Monday, a "fairly significant witness" is expected, and will likely testify for three or four days, Williams said.

Jurors have a holiday from July 20 to August 5.

Prosecutors expect to wind up their case in the first week after the jury returns, Williams said.

"The conclusion of the Crown's case is an important milestone in the progress of the trial," Williams said.

Whether or not the defence will call witnesses has not been revealed in court. "You and I will find out together what happens," Williams told jurors.

Also Tuesday, RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Hyland testified that when she was working as a New Westminster Police constable in 1999, she pulled over Pickton after she saw his slow-moving pickup truck veering dramatically across the road as he travelled with a woman along the city's prostitution stroll.

Pickton was driving at about 30 or 40 kilometres an hour in a 50-kilometre zone, Hyland said.

In the car with Pickton was Lynn Ellingsen, who has testified that after the traffic stop, she and Pickton drove into Vancouver where he picked up a prostitute. Ellingsen said later that night she saw Pickton butchering the woman, who was dangling from a chain in his slaughterhouse. Ellingsen said she'd been living in Pickton's trailer, but after the incident in the slaughterhouse she left and never lived there again.

But Hyland testified that the stop happened March 20, 1999, and court has heard that Ellingsen was named as the patient in two ambulance visits to the farm after that date.

Pickton, 57, who ran a pig-butchering business on his family's Port Coquitlam farm, is charged with murdering 26 Vancouver women. He is on trial on the first six charges, relating to Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Georgina Papin, Brenda Wolfe, Marnie Frey and Andrea Joesbury.

Pickton's second trial, on 20 more counts, has not been scheduled, but may begin in 2008.

Vancouver Province

© CanWest News Service 2007

CanWest News Service



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