Will Pickton stand trial?

Families and friends of the missing women find out tomorrow if the case against the pig farmer will proceed

Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Accused serial killer Robert Pickton -- and the families of his alleged victims -- will find out tomorrow whether he will stand trial for murdering 15 women.

CREDIT: Julie Iverson, The Province

(Police and anthropology students look for clues in the case).

Yesterday was emotional for relatives of missing women, as some attended court in Port Coquitlam and others travelled to the new police search under way in a boggy slough in Mission.

"It brings back all the feelings, the fears that we had when we first heard about the police search at 853 Dominion [the Pickton pig farm]," said Val Hughes, speaking at the Mission search site about her missing sister, Kerry Koski.

"But, as opposed to the ugliness of the pig farm, this is a beautiful site and it's easier to accept it might be the final resting place for my sister.

"I'm so thankful to the police that they're continuing to look for the women, because my sister is still not found. I need her to be found and her children need to know -- her eldest says she has to know to be able to grieve properly."

Meanwhile, final submissions were made at the preliminary hearing, which began in January.

Pickton, who sat inside a bulletproof-glass cage with a sheriff during the entire hearing, appeared fascinated with the hour-long summary of evidence presented by Crown prosecutor Michael Petrie.

CREDIT: Julie Iverson, The Province

Fences line the Lougheed Highway in Mission, separating the media from the wetlands where police and anthropology students look for clues in the case.

Pickton's defence team of six lawyers made no submission in court yesterday.

At times, the 53-year-old farmer, who made a living by butchering pigs, fixing cars and working on demolition debris at his Port Coquitlam farm, smirked, smiled slightly or shook his head in apparent disagreement.

Provincial Court Judge David Stone said he will rule tomorrow morning whether Pickton will be tried for the first-degree murder of 15 women who worked as prostitutes in the Downtown Eastside.

Outside court, Crown spokesman Geoffrey Gaul said, "It's been an incredible amount of work for all counsel, for the prosecutors, for the defence team, for the court. The police did an enormous amount of work."

(Geoffrey Gaul)

If Pickton is committed to stand trial, speculation has been that a trial would tie up B.C. Supreme Court resources in New Westminster or Vancouver for a long time and might not proceed before late 2004 or 2005.

Gaul was unwilling to predict when the trial might begin or whether Pickton might face more charges.

"We're not going to speculate on that," he said. "It's important for the public to understand this: At this stage the information before Judge Stone is 15 counts."

The wrap-up of the long hearing came one day after police began searching a wetlands area between the Lougheed Highway and the Fraser River, just east of the Ruskin Bridge.

Yesterday, the site was buzzing with activity as police and 52 anthropology students, who earlier had been searching the Pickton farm, looked for clues.

Media have been confined to a "staging area" across the highway and the public is excluded entirely by fencing and yellow crime-scene tape. Gawkers trying to see from the highway wound up in a three-car crash yesterday.

A blue evidence tent, similar to those erected at the Pickton farm, has been set up in the slough, part of an uninhabited reserve owned by the Kwantlen native band. 

 Copyright 2003 The Province

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

Updated: August 21, 2016