Conviction of Canadian serial killer upheld

Thu Jun 25, 2009 3:11pm EDT
 
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By Greg Joyce

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A court has upheld the murder conviction of Canadian serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton, who lured prostitutes to his pig farm near Vancouver, and disposed of their remains there.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal, in a 2 to 1 decision on Thursday, rejected Pickton's claim that the trial judge violated his rights by giving wrong instructions to the jury that convicted him of six counts of second degree murder in 2007.

"It is my opinion that the evidence strongly suggested (Pickton) was the killer, or one of the killers, on all counts," Justice Richard Low, wrote for the appeal court's majority.

Pickton, 59, has been charged with a total of 26 murders, but the original trial judge split the proceedings in two, citing the length and complexity of a single hearing.

The appeals panel agreed with prosecutors that the lower court erred in splitting the case into two trials. That means prosecutors could try him again on all 26 cases, but they have said they were unlikely to try the remaining 20 charges if the first six convictions were upheld.

Pickton was sentenced to life in prison with no hope of parole for 25 years. Canada does not have a death penalty.

His victims were among more than 60 women sex trade workers who disappeared from Vancouver's poor, drug-infested Downtown Eastside neighborhood over nearly more than a decade until his arrest in early 2002.

Pickton lured the women to his ramshackle farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam, killed them after having sex, butchered their bodies in the farm's slaughterhouse and used the animals to dispose of the remains.   Continued...