December 11, 2007 / 8:44 PM / 10 years ago

Relatives sob over serial killings

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.

<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>

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.”

Pickton lured the women to his farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, where he killed them and cut up their bodies to dispose of them.

“There has been no evidence (presented) that would explain these crimes and no sign of remorse,” prosecutor Geoff Baragar told the court.

Pickton is charged with a total of 26 murders, with the remaining 20 charges to be heard in a second trial if prosecutors decide to proceed with it.

Several of the victim impact statements talked of the brutality of the killings, and the pain of hearing their loved ones described in media reports only as sex trade workers and not as women who had families.

“Mister Pickton, why did you hurt my mother?” Brittney Frey, daughter of Marnie Frey, asked in a statement read by her step-grandmother.

The defense asked for leniency saying Pickton also had a history of kindness and noted the jury declined to convict him of the more serious charge first degree murder, which required prosecutors to prove the murders were planned in advance.

“We cannot lose sight of that fact in the circumstances of this case,” lead defense attorney Peter Ritchie said. “The jury has spoken.”

The six murder victims were among more than 60 women who disappeared in Vancouver from the late 1980s until late 2001, shortly before Pickton’s arrest in February 2002.

Editing by Rob Wilson

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