Pickton convicted for serial killings

Sun Dec 9, 2007 6:05pm EST
 
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By Allan Dowd

NEW WESTMINSTER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Robert "Willie" Pickton was convicted on Sunday of the serial killings of six women whose bodies were butchered like animals in his farm's slaughterhouse.

But the jury convicted Pickton of a lesser charge of second degree murder, not the first degree murder charge he originally faced. The verdict still carries a sentence of life in prison, but the lesser charge makes it easier to get parole. He will be sentenced on Tuesday.

Pickton stood impassively in the court as the verdict was read. Relatives of the victims initially yelled "No! No!" when the jury said he was not guilty of first degree murder, but then hugged each other in joy outside the court room.

The verdict wraps up the first of two scheduled trials for Pickton, who is accused of killing 26 Vancouver prostitutes. His second trial, if prosecutors decide to go forward with it, will deal with the remaining 20 murder charges.

Pickton, 58, lured the women to his farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam with money and drugs, killed them, and cut up the bodies and disposed of the remains using the pigs and a rendering plant.

Investigators found human remains on the farm, including severed skulls and feet. A woman who lived briefly in Pickton's trailer testified she saw him cutting up a body in the middle of the night.

Jurors also viewed a taped jailhouse conversation in which Pickton told an undercover officer after his February 2002 arrest that he had killed 49 women and planned to make it 50.

Pickton's legal defense team argued the human remains did not prove he was the killer and that police ignored other suspects. Pickton did not testify during the trial and rarely showed emotion.   Continued...

 
<p>Robert Pickton at home in an undated television image. Pickton was convicted on Sunday of the serial killings of six women whose bodies were butchered like animals in the farm's slaughterhouse. REUTERS/Global TV</p>