Relatives sob over serial killings

Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:26pm EST
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By Allan Dowd

NEW WESTMINSTER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Relatives of the victims of Canadian serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton sobbed in court on Tuesday as they described the emotional devastation caused by the murders.

Victim impact statements were read to the judge preparing to sentence Pickton, following his conviction on Sunday for the murders of six women, whose bodies were butchered in the slaughterhouse of his pig farm near Vancouver.

"Nobody should meet death the way she did," read a statement from Jay Draayers, a foster brother of Sereena Abotsway, whose head, hands and feet were discovered in a bucket on Pickton's farm.

Pickton sat emotionless in the prisoner's box. His gaze was mostly set on his hands, which were folded on his lap. He did not make eye contact with the speakers in the witness box and never turned his head to look at the audience.

Pickton, 58, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the six convictions for second degree murder, but the court is deciding when he might be eligible to apply for parole, within a range of 10 to 25 years.

British Columbia Supreme Court Judge James Williams was expected to decide on a sentence later on Tuesday.

Prosecutors described the murders as "cold blooded" and said they wanted the harshest punishment allowable. Canada does not have a death penalty. The defense wants parole available in 10 to 15 years.

Pickton's victims were drug addicts and prostitutes in the poor Downtown Eastside of Vancouver on Canada's Pacific coast, but lead prosecutor Michael Petrie said it was important that the public know they were not "disposable people."   Continued...

<p>Family members of women murdered by convicted killer Robert Pickton arrive at the court house in New Westminster, British Columbia December 11, 2007. Family are (L-R): Lillian Beaudoin, Judy Trimble, Lynn Frey and Rick Frey. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>