The missing women of Vancouver
CBC News Online | Updated Aug. 10, 2006
4. After investigators spent 18 months excavating his Port Coquitlam farm, Robert William Pickton faced 15 murder charges in Vancouver's missing women case in 2002.
In May 2005, Crown attorneys added 12 more first-degree murder charges against Pickton, bringing the grim total to 27.
One of those charges was eventually dropped in March 2006, after a judge ruled Pickton could not be tried for killing an unidentified victim.
In July 2003, B.C. provincial court judge David Stone ruled there was enough evidence to take Pickton to trial. This came after an extensive six-month-long preliminary hearing.
But in June 2004, lawyers working on the case said Pickton's trial won't start until spring 2005 at the earliest. In December 2004, Pickton's defence team asked for another delay to give them time to examine DNA evidence. The trial date was further delayed when prosecutors added the 12 additional charges in May 2005.
Pickton's trial didn't start until late January 2006. The voir dire phase of the trial, in which lawyers argue over what evidence will be admissible, is expected to last several months on its own. Reporters are not allowed to disclose material presented during voir dire because it may be ruled inadmissible. However, Crown prosecutors and Pickton's lawyers agreed they can start putting evidence to a jury in January 2007. Jury selection is scheduled for December 2006. It's expected 3,500 people will be called for jury duty, up substantially from an average of about 500 in other murder cases.
And to lessen the burden on the jurors, a B.C. judge ruled that Pickton's trial will be divided into two parts. He will first be tried on six counts of murder. Justice James Williams said prosecutors can still seek a separate trial for the remaining 20 victims. He said severing the counts maximizes the chances that the case will proceed properly without a mistrial. And, he added, the evidence in these six cases - the alleged murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey ? was "materially different" than the others.
The case against Robert Pickton
Rebecca Guno, a drug addict and prostitute, vanished from Vancouver's downtown eastside in June 1983. Her name was the first of 61 that would eventually be placed on the list of women to disappear mysteriously from the drug-infested area over the two decades that followed.
It wasn't until 19 years later, early in 2002, that charges were laid in any of the cases. The charges came not long after police focused their efforts on a farm in Port Coquitlam, outside Vancouver. Dozens of officers scoured the farm in search of evidence.
Within months, the owner of that farm, 53-year-old Robert William Pickton, would face seven murder charges.
In July 2002, police...