No certainty of second trial for Pickton, official says
B.C. pig farmer still facing charges in connection with deaths of 20 other women
Robert William Pickton, convicted on Sunday of murdering six women, is still charged in connection with the deaths of 20 other women, but there's uncertainty about when and if he will face a second trial.
A spokesman for prosecutors handling the case said Crown and defence lawyers will meet Jan. 17 to schedule a date for a possible second trial. But B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal was less definite.
"That decision obviously has not been made," Oppal told CBC News after Sunday's verdicts.
"Keepin mind here that he's already going to be sentenced to six life terms … so that will be weighed against the interests of the victims [and] the other people who are involved," he added.
Oppal emphasized that Pickton's second-degree murder convictionsmean he will serve 10 to 25 years (the judge has yet to set the exact number) before he can ask for parole, and he has no guarantee of getting it.
"I think the public can take comfort in the fact that Mr. Pickton, in all likelihood, will never see the light of day again."
"It's rarely ever 10 years any more. It's more likely to be closer to 25, which means that he will be eligible, and I underline the word eligible, for parole in 25 years.AndI don't see any parole board letting him out."
Stan Lowe, a spokesman for the prosecutors handling the case, latersounded more definite about a secondtrial, while citing possible complications.
"At this time, we are beginning to make preparations for a second trial and January 17 has been set aside as a fix date for the second trial," Lowe told reporters.
"In the interim we will conduct a reassessment of the available evidence for that trial andwe mustassess the impact of evidentiary rulings to date and how theevidence from this case has been impacted by cross examinations.
"But I warn you, several factors will have an influence on the timing of the second trial. Three important factors to remember [are]: whether there is an appeal filed in this case, when the Crown and defence will be prepared to proceed with the second trial and the duration of any voir dires."(A voir dire isspecial hearing at which a judge decides whether evidence can be presented at trial).
Lead prosecutor Mike Petriesaidthe Crown is reviewing its position on a second trial.
Prosecutors said all along that there wasenough evidence to charge Pickton with 26 counts of murder, and that hasn't changed,Petrie told CBC News.
"There are practical, competing concerns, obviously, relating to the public interest and what's in the public interest once a person's been convicted,"he said."There are also these issues that I've raised about the potential effect that rulings and so on in this case have had. Those are things that need to be looked at.
"At this point, the Crown's position is that those matters are proceeding and only a review, honestly, could give us the final answer."
Relatives of a number of victims have been adamant that another trial must be held. Oppal said their views will be taken into account.
"Prosecutors will meet with them"and if necessary I'll meet with them," the attorney general said, "and we'll have to make the appropriate decision from meeting with them and determining whether or not it would be the right thing to do to have a second trial."
He was asked whether police are still looking for other people involved in the six murders for which Pickton was convicted on Sunday.
"I'm told that there is an investigation and they're still working on all those factors, but it's important to remember here that the only evidence that was brought forward to the Crown was the evidence brought forward by the police.
"Our Crown prosecutors determined that there was was sufficient evidence to prosecute those accused for these crimes and the jury said that was the right thing to do."
Nodecision ona public inquiry
Oppal also declined to say whether there will be a public inquiry to examine why it took years for police to act on reports that women, mostly prostitutes and drug users, were disappearing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
"Public inquiries are held where there are relevant and important questions that are still unanswered after a trial. Whether or not that's the case in this particular set of circumstances is something that we'll have to determine," he said.
One lesson to be taken from the case, he said, "is that perhaps we have to do a better job of looking after the sex-trade workers."
"Maybe that's something that we can learn. I know that the police, from my knowledge, are patrolling the Downtown Eastside, and I've been with the police where they've made inquiries as [to]the safety of sex-trade workers.
"Those are things that we all have to consider. We as a society have to decide whether we marginalize these people or not."