Canada court denies convicted serial killer appeal
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A court on Thursday rejected the appeal of a farmer convicted of butchering women and feeding them to his pigs in what police say was Canada’s worst serial murder case.
Thursday’s decision also means that Robert Pickton, convicted of six murders, will likely not be tried for another 20 murders with which he is charged. Prosecutors have said that if Pickton’s verdict were not overturned, they would not try the other cases because he is already serving the maximum sentence.
Pickton, 59, is serving life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
However, that is little comfort for some family members of the 20 other women.
“I don’t care if he’s in jail for 25 years on another case. I care that there’s a guilty or not guilty on behalf of my sister and all the other families involved,” said Susie Kinshella, a sister of Wendy Crawford, one of the 20.
The judge in the first trial proceeded with just six of the 26 murder charges because he felt that handling all of them in one trial would be too much of a burden on the jury.
Pickton’s defense lawyers challenged the six murder convictions before the British Columbia Court of Appeal, saying the judge made numerous mistakes in his final charge to the jury.
The appeals court ruled that the trial judge’s charge was adequate and did not compromise Pickton’s right to a fair trial.
The defense could next appeal to Canada’s Supreme Court in Ottawa. Pickton’s lawyer, Patrick McGowan, said he was still consulting with his client and other defense lawyers on whether to appeal to the top court.
Pending a possible appeal, the remains of all the victims will stay in the custody of the coroner as evidence. Kinshella said they would like closure.
Most of the women who Pickton was accused of killing were prostitutes and drug addicts. He was arrested in February 2002 by police investigating the disappearances of sex-trade workers from Vancouver’s seedy Downtown Eastside.
Pickton and his brother used to throw parties at the hog farm in a barn they dubbed the “Piggy Palace.” Investigators have said they were drunken parties with prostitutes and plenty of drugs.
After Pickton’s arrest, authorities searched his suburban Vancouver farm. At his trial, investigators testified that they found body parts, blood samples, bone fragments and the belongings of many women.
The severed heads of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway and Andrea Joesbury were found on Pickton’s farm. Each woman had been shot. A prosecution witness testified she walked in on a blood-covered Pickton as a woman’s body dangled from a chain in the farm’s slaughterhouse.