Wednesday, Nov 01, 2006
Judge in Pickton murder case urges Crown to provide detailed trial plan
VANCOUVER (CP) - The trial of accused serial killer Robert Pickton before a jury is only three months away - an urgency that has prompted the court to require the Crown to produce a trial plan. "The Crown and defence have been trying to lay out a format for a trial plan and the judge had to get involved because they reached an impasse," Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said Wednesday. "The judge only gave directions. It wasn't an order."
The issue of a trial plan, in which the Crown lays out in fairly detailed form what witnesses it intends to call and what generally they will say, has been an issue for at least a few months.
The defence asked the Crown in court again earlier this week for the plan, prompting the judge to urge the Crown to comply soon.
"The judge gave some guidance as to what he'd expect in a trial plan but left it entirely up to the Crown," said Lowe.
Pickton is charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder of mostly drug-addicted sex-trade workers who lived or worked on the city's Downtown Eastside.
In an earlier ruling this year, Justice James Williams ruled that the first trial would begin in January with six counts; a second trial with the remaining 20 counts would follow.
document.writeln(""); Unlock your equity at chip.ca (external - login to view) Lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie welcomed the judge's comments on a speedy trial plan.
"The defence is trying to do everything we can to get this case sufficiently moving along," said Ritchie. "We're very optimistic that the (trial plan) will assist in getting this case moving along smoothly for everybody."
Although the judge didn't set a trial plan deadline, Ritchie said the two sides are scheduled to be back in court Monday "and I expect he will want to see how we're doing."
Pickton's trial began last January under a publication ban and has been hearing arguments by the Crown and defence about what evidence can be put before the jury when it begins listening to witnesses' testimony early next year.
The six-count indictment to be tried in January charges Pickton, 57, with the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.
The jury is to be selected next month.
I hope they get this trial going soon, while I'm still young enough to remember what it's all about. Remember the Air India trial? We mucked around with that case so long that the witnesses either died, or were killed, and the case was thrown out.