Jurors to begin Pickton deliberations next month

Jurors in the Robert (Willie) Pickton murder trial will begin deliberating the fate of the accused serial killer next month.

His defence lawyers wrapped up their case in New Westminster Supreme Court on Tuesday, a “significant milestone” in the marathon trial, Justice James Williams said.

Lawyers for both sides will submit final arguments to the jury on Nov. 13.

Those submissions are expected to last about 1½ days each. After that, the trial judge will deliver his instructions to the jury of seven men and five women, who will then be sequestered until they reach a verdict.

Pickton is standing trial on six counts of first degree murder in the deaths of women who vanished from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.

Jurors have heard testimony from nearly 130 witnesses since the trial began Jan. 22.

The defence’s case lasted seven weeks, longer than Pickton’s lawyers had originally predicted; illnesses suffered by jury members and witnesses delayed proceedings as well.

The defence called 30 witnesses. For the most part, their testimony focused on Pickton’s level of intelligence – something jurors were asked to keep in mind when considering his allegedly incriminating statements to police – and the amount of activity at his busy Port Coquitlam farm, where Pickton ran a pig butchering business and was involved in other family-run businesses.

Final witness psychologist Larry Krywaniuk testified Pickton has a low average IQ of 85, but testing indicates he has a cognitive disorder related to his verbal abilities. 

Expert witnesses for the defence also called into question some of the forensic evidence the jury is being asked to consider.

Crown prosecutors allege the accused brought prostitutes to his farm at 953 Dominion Ave., killed them, butchered them and disposed of their remains. The Crown’s case concluded in early August. Prosecutors called 98 witnesses, including former friends who provided graphic testimony, and entered more than 200 forensic and DNA exhibits.

Their case also centered around two police videos involving statements by Pickton in custody following his February 2002 arrest.

At the start of the trial, jurors were told Pickton admits physical remains of the six women were found on the farm but denies killing them.

Pickton, who turns 58 on Wednesday, faces another 20 murder counts related to the missing women case that are to be dealt with at a separate trial. A date for that trial will be set Nov. 20. 

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