April 07, 2008
METRO VANCOUVER - The victims' families who have been waiting years to find out if there is going to be a second trial for serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton are going to have to wait one more year.
B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm decided today to grant the Crown's application for an adjournment until after Pickton's appeal, which will start next March 30 and last about two weeks.
The judge decided the trial date for Pickton's second trial will be set on the third Thursday after the B.C. Court of Appeal delivers its decision.
The Crown initially charged Pickton with 27 counts of first-degree murder. One charge involved an unidentified woman called Jane Doe, which was stayed by the trial judge.
The defence was successful in having the remaining 26 murders charges divided into two trials, with the Crown proceeding first on six counts of murder, which Pickton was convicted of last Dec. 9.
He received the maximum sentence - life without parole for 25 years. The Crown announced earlier that it does not plan to proceed on the remaining 20 murder counts if Pickton loses his appeal.
The defence wanted a trial date set now so Pickton's new lawyer, Peter Wilson, could hire a defence team and begin preparing for a second trial. But Dohm found Pickton's constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable period of time does not come into play after he has been convicted of six murders and is serving six concurrent life sentences.
"His right has been held in abeyance," the judge said.
Dohm asked the families of those named as murder victims in the second trial for their "understanding and patience" until the matter can be resolved.
"It has not been overlooked that there are many people whose voices have not been heard," the judge explained. "The court fully appreciates the silent voices cry for a conclusion to this ordeal."
Outside court, Susie Kinshella of Chilliwack, the sister of Wendy Crawford, one of the remaining 20 victims Pickton still is accused of killing, said she is unhappy that a second trial might not go ahead.
"I'm not happy they may try to brush the other 20 women under the table," she said after attending the court proceedings in New Westminster. "That's like saying someone can go out and murder 30 women and they might pick the first six [for trial]."
She said Pickton is the highest-profile serial murder case in Canada "but the history books are going to say he went to jail for six counts of murder, not 26. I would like to have a not guilty or guilty verdict."
Kinshella said it seems the government would rather spend money on the 2010 Olympic Games rather than proceeding with a second trial.