A pig farmer who is believed to be Canada's worst serial killer was found guilty Sunday of second degree murder in the death of six women. This trial in a suburban Vancouver court involved the first six of 26 murders Robert "Willie" Pickton is being charged with. Craig McCulloch reports for VOA from Vancouver.
The jury took nine days to find Pickton guilty on six counts of second-degree murder. The 58 year-old pig farmer showed no emotion or reaction when the verdict was read out in court.
Pickton was originally charged with six counts of first-degree murder. He still faces an additional trial on 20 more counts of murder. The second trial is scheduled to get under way January 17.
Despite being convicted of second rather than first-degree murder, prosecution spokesperson Stan Lowe says he is satisfied with the verdict.
"We view today's verdicts as a validation or confirmation of our assessment of the evidence in this case," he said. "Mr. Pickton murdered these women, that is what the jury has found. We are left with a matter of satisfaction in how we presented our case."
Lowe says the primary role of the prosecution in British Columbia is to ensure a fair trial and to abandon any sense of wining and losing.
How long Pickton will have to serve before being eligible for parole will be decided on Tuesday after impact statements from the victims' families are read out in court. The automatic verdict in a case such as this one is a life sentence.
Lead defense attorney Peter Ritchie says he does not know whether his client will file an appeal. He says the defense had a challenge going through the piles of evidence.
"There were enormous difficulties from the point of view of the defense trying to understand this case because of the logistics involved," he said. "Don't forget we had well over a million pieces of papers we had to digest here."
The trial started in January and heard from over 100 witnesses and involved over 1.25 million pieces of paper.
All of the victims were women from Vancouver's impoverished downtown east side.
Rick Frey's daughter Marnie is one of the women Pickton was found guilty of killing. He says he hopes the second degree murder conviction will help bring forward more information for the second trial.
"I'm happy for myself. I am also very happy that now we can move on for a little bit of answers to be coming out of the next trial for the next 20," he said. "So, it's very important that we had six counts of guilty."
Pickton lured the victims to his farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam with money and drugs, killed them, cut up the bodies and disposed of the remains using the pigs and a rendering plant.
Investigators found many human remains buried on his farm.