Canada's Notorious Serial Killer's Trial Coming To A Close.
If ever a case for Capital Punishment, Wally PIckton deserves it many times over. I hesitate to comment further, as I do not believe the man deserves publicity in any form.
At long last, the final stage begins in the long-running horror show that has been Robert "Willy" Pickton's murder trial.
Final arguments from the Crown and defence are set to begin tomorrow at the B.C. Supreme Court in suburban New Westminster just outside Vancouver. Mr. Justice James Williams will then deliver a lengthy charge to the seven-man, five-woman jury encapsulating the law and the evidence in the gruelling trial.
And then, after 99 days of testimony and 128 witnesses, jurors are expected to finally begin deliberations by Nov. 27.
While their decision is unknown, there is no doubt that this trial cannot end too soon for the jury -- and for the public as well. The details that have emerged have been just as the judge had warned: "As bad as a horror movie," but without the option of turning the television off.
Pickton, 58, stands accused of killing, butchering and disposing of six women from Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside. He faces another 20 charges of murder in connection with Vancouver's missing women after this first trial is done.
The jury's journey through darkness began back on Jan. 22, when the Crown opened the long-delayed trial with a gruesome account of what they allege Pickton did after enticing sex-trade workers to his ramshackle pig farm in Port Coquitlam, 35 km away from the desperate stroll.
Jurors heard that police found the heads of Sereena Abotsway and Andrea Joesbury sawed in half in buckets stored in a freezer on the farm, the women's hands and feet stuffed inside their skulls; they learned that Mona Wilson's bisected skull was discovered in a garbage pail in the slaughterhouse as were the partial jaws of Marnie Frey and Brenda Wolfe; they were told Georgina Papin's hand bones were found in the manure of a pigpen.
It was more than many of us could stand. Readers complained about the gory trial details in their newspapers; many outlets simply began burying their coverage or didn't report on it at all.
But for this jury, there was no escape.
They heard from the silent Pickton himself -- but only in two long videotapes made by police after his arrest in February, 2002. In one, after being shown the poster of 60 missing women, he insists: "You make me more of a mass murderer than I am."
In the other, he is filmed bragging to an undercover police officer planted in his cell, that he was only arrested because he got sloppy.
"I was going to do one more, make it an even 50."
The prosecution's star witness was Lynn Ellingsen, who testified she saw the body of a butchered woman hanging from a meat hook in his barn, with the blood-covered pig farmer standing nearby. Through months of evidence, she was the only person to testify that she actually saw Pickton with a dead woman.
But as an admitted alcoholic and crack addict, Ellingsen's hazy recollection was vigorously attacked by the defence.
Some of the most disturbing testimony came from Andrew Bellwood, who lived in Pickton's trailer for six weeks in early 1999. He testified that Pickton described how he killed prostitutes by handcuffing and strangling them, then bleeding and gutting them before feeding them to pigs.
Pickton's lawyers accused the cocaine addict of lying but Bellwood stood by his story.
Jurors heard about DNA evidence as well. In Canada's largest, most expensive forensic investigation, the RCMP seized and tested more than 235,000 specimens.
According to the Crown, five of those items had a confirmed or possible DNA link to Pickton as well as the victims, including a handgun in Pickton's laundry room with a sex toy over the end, bearing the DNA of Mona Wilson and possibly Pickton.
Body parts. DNA. An alleged confession. It seemed the Crown's case was overwhelming.
But Pickton has an expensive defence team -- paid in part by a mortgage the province slapped on the Pickton farm -- bent on raising reasonable doubt.
The pig farmer wasn't the only one with access to the sprawling property which was, according to defence lawyer Peter Richie, "a busy hive of activity."
Defence witnesses, who took the stand beginning in September, painted the defendant as a friend to downtrodden sex-trade workers, often giving them money and a place to stay. But one person they didn't call was Pickton himself.
As for his incriminating statements to police, his lawyers argued that the pig farmer is so intellectually challenged that his own mother didn't want him to receive his inheritance until he turned 40.
Is he Canada's worst serial killer? Or just an innocent, dim-witted dupe?
It will soon be up to the jury to decide, and to finally bring this horror movie to a close.