Pig farmer convicted of second-degree murder in deaths of six women
RAFE ARNOTT/for METRO calgary
Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert Pickton, 58, showed no emotion as he was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women who disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
“He didn’t change his facial expression,” said Marilyn Kraft, mother of Cindy Feliks who is among 20 women that Pickton is also charged with killing. “He just sat there with his leg over his knee. He just sat there.”
Family and friends of the murdered women initially reacted with shock and dismay when the jury returned — after 10 days of deliberations — with a verdict of not guilty for six counts of first-degree murder.
The disappointment, however, faded quickly as the jury found Pickton guilty of six counts of the lesser second-degree charge for the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Marnie Frey and Georgina Papin.
“There was a lot of relief there, because it doesn’t matter,” Kraft said. “Life is life.”
The conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no eligibility of parole for 10 to 25 years. His sentencing hearing begins tomorrow.
Defence lawyer Peter Ritchie said his client was “having the normal reaction of someone who has been convicted of six counts of murder.”
Light snow fell outside the New Westminster courthouse as family members of the slain women, crying and shaking, lit candles representing the six women Pickton killed and 20 others he is accused of killing.
A poem entitled, “Nobody sees her” was read and a song was played with the names of the missing women inserted at the end.
The sisters of Georgina Papin held each other, faces touching, as tears streamed from their eyes.
Pickton was arrested and charged in the deaths of Abotsway and Wilson on Feb. 22, 2002. By May 26, 2005, he had been charged with 27 murders.
The police investigation was one of the most detailed in Canadian history and included hundreds of interviews and more than 1,500 statements.