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20070905: Serial killer accused 'has limited intelligence' BC New Westminster Serial Killer News
A lawyer for the man accused of being Canada’s most prolific serial killer opened his defence by telling a jury they will hear evidence in the coming weeks about Robert Pickton’s limited intelligence.

Pickton is being tried in New Westminster, British Columbia, on the first six of the 26 charges of first-degree murder over the deaths of Vancouver women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts.

Earlier in the trial, witness Andrew Bellwood told the jury that Pickton confessed to him he would strangle his victims while he had sex with them, gut and butcher them in his slaughterhouse and feed some remains to his pigs.

Pickton has acknowledged the bodies were found on his property, but denied killing them.

Pickton’s lawyer, Adrian Brooks, told the jury it would hear from psychologists who administered IQ and aptitude tests to Pickton.

Brooks said he wanted the jury to keep the information in mind as they view his responses to police questioning.

Prosecutors say Pickton made damning statements to police shortly after his arrest in February 2002, including a comment to an undercover officer that he got caught because he was sloppy.

The defence has said it could wrap up its case in three weeks, considerably less time than the prosecution, which opened its case in January and finished on August 13.

The trial covers the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. Police say evidence of their remains were found on the farm.

In an admission to a police cell plant, Pickton suggested he had killed 49 women and was going to kill more.
 

20070905: Friend of Canadian accused serial killer says she saw blood in his trailer home BC New Westminster Serial Killer News
A friend of the man accused of being Canada's most prolific serial killer changed her testimony Wednesday and said she saw blood in his trailer.

Defense witness Ingrid Fehlauer was asked by defense lawyer Adrian Brooks on Wednesday morning if she had seen anything unusual in Robert Pickton's trailer and she told the jury that it was only dirt.

In the afternoon, under cross-examination by prosecutor Mike Petrie she said the earlier story was not truthful.

"In fact on one occasion you saw lots of blood everywhere," Petrie asked.

"Yes," she said.

Fehlauer had visited Pickton, a pig farmer, regularly in his trailer and slaughterhouse,

Pickton is being tried on the first six of the 26 charges of first-degree murder he faces in the deaths of Vancouver women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts.

Petrie asked her why she had given the earlier testimony.

"My understanding is that it wasn't going to be mentioned here," she said.

She said two defense lawyers had told her before she took the stand that "this would not be brought up."

Petrie asked her if her first statement about seeing only dirt was "not true."

She agreed.

"You knew it was not true at the time (you testified)," he said.

"Yes," she said.

The testimony came on the second day of the defense case after months of the jury hearing from 98 prosecution witnesses.

The defense has said it could wrap up its case in three weeks, considerably less time than the prosecution, which opened its case in January and wound it up Aug. 13.

The trial covers the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. Police say evidence of their remains were found on the farm.

In a jailhouse admission to a police cell plant, Pickton suggested he had killed 49 women and was going to kill more.
 

20070717: Pickton described killings, Canada court told BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Accused serial killer Robert Pickton described how he killed prostitutes after having sex with them and used his pigs to help dispose of the remains, a Canadian court was told on Monday.

Prosecution witness Andrew Bellwood, who lived briefly at Pickton's farm, testified that Pickton showed him handcuffs and play-acted as he described stroking their hair and telling them everything would be okay, "it's over now".

"While he was telling me this story it was almost as if there was a woman on the bed," Bellwood told the court, testifying about a conversation he said they had in Pickton's bedroom in early 1999 while watching television.

Bellwood said Pickton told him that after butchering the dead women in the farm's slaughterhouse, he fed some of the remains to his pigs. Any remains the pigs did not eat were put into a container and taken to an animal rendering plant.

Pickton is accused of killing 26 of more than 60 prostitutes and drug addicts who disappeared from Vancouver, British Columbia, from the late 1980s until late 2001, shortly before his arrest at his farm in nearby Port Coquitlam in February 2002.

This trial deals with six of the women.

Police say Pickton picked the women up in Vancouver's poor Downtown Eastside neighborhood and took them to the ramshackle farm, where he slaughtered pigs, about a 30 minute drive from the city.

Pickton, 57, has denied murdering the women, although his defense lawyers acknowledge body parts and DNA were discovered on the property. An earlier witnesses testified she saw him cutting up a body.

Pickton watched Bellwood testify and wrote on a notepad in the prisoner's box, just as he has during much of the trial that began in late January.

Bellwood, 37, admitted he had a crack cocaine addiction.

Most of the major civilian witnesses in the trial have been drug abusers who Pickton befriended, although there is no evidence he used drugs or alcohol himself.

Bellwood said Pickton, who often went under the nickname Willie, began the conversation by suggesting they go to Vancouver to get a prostitute, which they did not do, and that he did not know at the time how much to believe what Pickton told him.

"I really didn't know what to make of it... There was part of me that thought it was pretty whacked out," Bellwood testified, admitting he never told police about the conversation until they contacted him in 2002.

Bellwood admitted he left the farm in March 1999 after he was accused of stealing some tools and was badly beaten.

The defense will begin its cross examination of Bellwood on Tuesday, and will likely suggest that he is making the claims to get revenge for the beating.
 

20070704: Testimony questioned Vancouver Serial Killer News
Robert Pickton's defence confronted the Crown's star witness on her crucial piece of evidence: That she saw the accused serial killer with a woman's butchered body in his barn.Defence lawyer Richard Brooks confronted Lynn Ellingsen with a March 2002 statement she gave to police.

"I didn't really, I didn't really look," Brooks said, reading her statement. "I just see her hanging. ... If you didn't look how could you possibly give those details?"

She said her previous alcohol and drug addictions also affected her preliminary testimony.

"If it isn't alcohol, you blame it on crack," Brooks countered. "You're not prepared to take responsibility for this. You just blame it on your addiction."

Ellingsen is the only person to testify who has claimed to have seen accused serial killer Pickton with the body of a dead woman.

 

20070625: Woman hanging from chain at accused serial killer’s pig farm Vancouver Serial Killer News
The star witness in the trial of an accused Canadian serial killer offered graphic testimony at his trial in British Columbia today.Lynn Ellingsen told the court that she walked into the barn at Robert Pickton's pig farm to find him covered in blood and a woman's body hanging from a chain.

Ellingsen, a former sex worker, said she recognized the woman's body as that of a prostitute they had picked up earlier that night. She did not say when the event occurred.

Pickton is being tried on the first 6 of the 26 charges of first-degree murder he faces in the deaths of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighborhood -- most of them prostitutes and drug addicts.

Pickton denies guilt, though he has acknowledged that human remains were found on the property he co-owns with two siblings east of Vancouver.

 

20070601: Serial killer blamed murders on friend Vancouver Serial Killer News
Accused serial killer Robert William Pickton told a friend he was not a murderer and that a female acquaintance of his was responsible for at least some killings, a Canadian court heard on Wednesday.

Pickton blamed the murders of prostitutes whose bodies were found on his Vancouver-area pig farm on Dinah Taylor, who spent time at his property, his friend Gina Houston told the court under questioning by Pickton's lawyer.

Houston, a friend of Pickton's for more than a decade, said Pickton made the comments in a February 20, 2002, conversation that happened after police raided his farm but before he was formally charged with any of the murders.

"Willie told me that she would take responsibility for what she said she would take responsibility for," Houston said.

 

20070531: ‘Serial killer’ told friend of bodies buried in farm Vancouver Serial Killer News
A woman who befriended accused Canadian serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton said on Tuesday that before he was arrested, Pickton told her there were bodies on his farm and that he was considering suicide.

Gina Houston cried as she told Pickton's murder trial he suggested they both kill themselves in a February 20, 2002, conversation shortly after police had raided his farm but before he was charged with murder.

"Willie told me we had to to do something. We had to do it before Friday ... He told me 'There was only one way out'," Houston told the crowded court in New Westminster, British Columbia, as Pickton watched from the prisoner's box.

Pickton was charged with murder on February 22, 2002. Police had raided his farm just outside Vancouver on Canada's West Coast on February 5, 2002, on a weapons charge, but evidence found in his trailer quickly turned the case into a murder probe.

Houston, who had been friends with Pickton since the early 1990s, said he admitted to her in the February 20 talk that there were women's bodies buried on the farm.

Arrest

"He said there was one, two, three, four, five or six bodies," a frail-looking Houston, 39, testified.

Pickton, 57, is on trial for six of the 26 murders he has been charged with since his arrest.

The court divided the case against the Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, pig farmer into two trials to make it easier for jurors to handle. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges.

 

20070518: Testimony questioned BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Accused serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton was a shy, well-mannered boy who later took over the butchering duties at his family's pig farm, a close family friend said in a Canadian court.

Robert Korac, a butcher who befriended Pickton's parents shortly after he moved to Canada from Croatia in 1956, said he often visited the family to slaughter their pigs. He recalled meeting Pickton, now 57, when the accused was about seven years old.

"[He was] always polite, with everybody," Korac said in uneven and accented English. Pickton, a pig farmer and auto salvager, is accused of killing 26 women, though the trial in this community near Vancouver is on only six of the murder charges.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Pickton, who if convicted would be Canada's worst serial killer, has been in detention since his arrest in February 2002. The women Pickton is accused of killing were among more than 60 who disappeared from Vancouver's poor Downtown Eastside neighbourhood from the late 1980s to 2001.

 

20070302: Alleged Canadian serial killer's brother still under investigation, jury hears BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Jurors in the trial of alleged serial killer Robert William Pickton heard that his brother is still being investigated by police in relation to women who have disappeared.

Det. Const. Mike McDonald said Thursday that Dave Pickton is still being investigated in connection with women missing from Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

Though Robert Pickton has been charged with the deaths of 26 women, 39 names remain on an official police list of women who have been declared missing. The investigation into their disappearances is still active.

"Police are continuing to investigate the possibility that David Francis Pickton was involved in the disappearance of some of the missing women who have been the focus of the Missing Women's Task Force, yes?" defense lawyer Richard Brooks asked.

"Yes," Vancouver police Det. Const. Mike McDonald quietly replied.

McDonald told the jury the most recent element of his investigation into Dave Pickton had to do a missing woman whom "we are not talking about here."

Dave Pickton was initially investigated after his brother was arrested, but the probe was believed to have later ended. However, McDonald's testimony indicates there is still an ongoing investigation into him.

McDonald ultimately seized 800 exhibits during the intensive search of Robert Pickton's home, as well as other buildings on the property owned by both brothers.

Robert Pickton, a pig farmer, is on trial for six counts of first-degree murder. If convicted of the 26 murders he is suspected of committing, he would become the worst serial killer in Canadian history.

Pickton was arrested in February 2002 by police investigating the disappearances of sex-trade workers from the Downtown Eastside district.

Pickton and his brother, Dave, used to throw parties at the hog farm in a barn they dubbed the "Piggy Palace," telling neighbors they were raising money for charity. Investigators have said the parties were drunken raves with prostitutes and plenty of drugs.

Dave Pickton, flagged down in his flatbed truck near the farm in December by an AP reporter, gave a friendly laugh through his long beard but said he did not care to discuss his brother. He would only say that he now hopes to raise cattle on the property, then continued on his way.
 

20070228: Police testify at accused Canadian serial killer's trial about finding human heads at farm BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers testified Wednesday that they discovered severed heads and other grisly human remains while using their flashlights to check a darkened building on the farm of accused Canadian serial killer Robert William Pickton.

Sgt. Tim Sleigh and Sgt. Fred Nicks were trying to check whether the freezers in the building were working on April 4, 2002, when they lifted the lid of one freezer and spotted two buckets. Pickton had been arrested two months earlier.

Sleigh asked his colleague: "What do you see in the bucket, Fred?"

"It looks like a human head, Tim, " Nicks told the jury.

The buckets contained the severed heads, hands and feet of Sereena Abotsway and Andrea Joesbury.

Pickton, 57 is being tried on the first six of the 26 charges of first-degree murder he faces in the deaths of women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighborhood — most of them prostitutes and drug addicts. Pickton denies guilt.

Prosecutors said when the trial opened Jan. 22 that Pickton had told an undercover officer that he had killed 49 women but was caught before he could reach his goal of 50.

He later said he intended to take a break and then "do another 25."

He also told the officer a rendering plant was an effective means of getting rid of bodies.

Nicks also testified he found a bone in a piggery on the farm. He and another officer had been scooping dirt into a container, and sifting through it to find evidence against Pickton.

"I said: 'Look, there's a bone,"' Nicks testified. "It was immersed in the muck and manure. I lucked it out and moved it to the staging area."

He called Sleigh to examine the finding.

"There was a filling in the teeth," he said. "At this point, we thought it was very likely human remains."

The bone was later identified as the jawbone of Brenda Wolfe.

Nicks had been working on gathering evidence outside a motor home on the property when Sleigh approached him.

That motor home contained a mattress soaked in blood later identified as that of Mona Wilson.

Her head and hands were also found in a bucket at another location on the farm.

Later Wednesday, Sgt. Michael Coyle testified he had been in charge of excavation work at the farm.

It was during sifting of earth taken from a fenceline on Aug. 21, 2002, he said, that a jawbone was found. It was taken for DNA testing and identified as being that of Marnie Frey.

Coyle testified that the 17-acre (7-hectare) farm was divided into 216 grid sections.

Soil from the grid sections was sifted and run across conveyers for examination by more than 130 archeologists and anthropologists.

Coyle said teeth were taken from Joesbury's and Abotsway's jaws to be handed over to forensic dentists who ground them to extract DNA so the remains could be identified.

 

 

20070212: RCMP blood expert at Pickton trial testifies about bloodletting at farm BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
A blood stain analyst testified at the Robert Pickton murder trial Monday that massive amounts of blood were found on a mattress in a mobile home on the pig farm where he is alleged to have killed at least 26 women.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Jack Mellis held a large book of color photos of the motor home, which his team began searching Feb. 7, 2002.

As the trial began its fourth week, the testimony focused on the sleeping platform at the rear of the dilapidated home. Mellis said it appeared that "bloodletting" had taken place on or above the foam mattress and in other parts of the mobile home.

"The stains at these location are indicative of the mattress being in a position at the time of bloodletting," he said, adding that the "passive soaking is consistent with a bleeding person, bleeding continually."

Prosecutors alleged in their opening statement that they believe the 56-year-old pig farmer lured sex-trade workers and drug addicts from Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside neighborhood out to his farm, where he killed them and disposed of the bodies by feeding them to his pigs.

Prosecutors said DNA tests indicate that the blood in the mobile home came from Mona Wilson, the last woman reported missing from the Downtown Eastside in December 2001.

Earlier in the trial, the 12-person jury was shown a tape of an interview done by RCMP Sgt. Bill Fordy with Pickton shortly after his arrest. In that 11-hour interrogation in February 2002, Fordy showed Pickton photos of the mattress that Mellis examined.

"That's human blood. This is Mona Wilson's blood," Fordy told Pickton, who appeared in the interview to shrug off the suggestion that the blood belonged to Wilson.

The woman's head, hands and feet were later found in a pail inside Pickton's slaughterhouse in June 2002. Her DNA was also found on a sex toy attached to a 22-caliber handgun found in Pickton's trailer.

Pickton is currently standing trial for six counts of first-degree murder. Pickton, who has pleaded innocent, faces another 20 counts of murder at a subsequent trial.

His defense attorney has suggested that Pickton is mentally challenged and might not have understood questioning by police.

Meticulously taking the jury through photos taken inside the motor home, Mellis said the headboard had "stains consistent with a hand transfer wipes in a downward direction."

He told the 12-person jury that on the carpet area in the sleeping area, he found "probable cast-off drops that are shed from a moving hand."

Mellis, testifying before British Columbia Supreme Court Justice James Williams, is the ninth of an estimated 240 witnesses the prosecution has suggested will be called to testify.

 

 

20070207: Accused serial killer said wanted to kill 75 women Vancouver Serial Killer News

Accused serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton, told an undercover police officer that he eventually wanted to kill as many as 75 women, a Canadian jury has heard.

The comment came in a conversation in which Pickton also talked about using a rendering plant to dispose of the bodies of the women that he had already killed, the officer testified, describing a taped conversation the jury was about to hear.

Pickton is alleged to have made the comments in a jail cell conversation with the undercover agent shortly after his arrest in 2002.

The officer, who cannot be named by court order, said Pickton signalled first with his hands and then words that he had killed 49 women and then wanted to kill one more.

Pickton then later said he planned to pause after the 50 killings but then resume and kill an additional 25.

Pickton has been charged with 26 murders although this trial deals with only six. The court divided the case into two trials to make it easier for the jury.

In their opening comments on January 22, prosecutors mentioned Pickton's comments on killing 50 women but made no mention of 75.

Prosecutors have never described Pickton's comments as a confession.

Police say Pickton, now 57, lured drug addicts and prostitutes to his farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, near Vancouver. There, police say, he killed them, butchered the bodies and then disposed of the remains both on the property and at an animal waste rendering plant.

The victims were among more than 60 women who disappeared from Vancouver's drug-ridden Downtown Eastside neighbourhood from the late 1980s until late 2001.

The jury of seven men and five women has already viewed a tape of a lengthy police interrogation of Pickton, made after his arrest in February 2002 on two murder charges.

In that tape, Pickton initially denies knowing anything about the missing women, but later suggests he would be willing to tell police about the killings if they agree to stop searching his farm.

The search lasted for 18 months and police say they eventually found the DNA of more than 30 of the missing women at the ramshackle farm.

 

 

20070206: Accused serial killer - farm 'buried me' Vancouver Serial Killer News

Accused serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton lamented that he never moved away from the family farm where police allege he killed 26 women and butchered their remains, a Canadian court heard on Monday.

"I was supposed to stay on the farm till I hit the age of 40... Now I'm 53 and now it's buried me. My name is mud," Pickton told an undercover police officer hours after his arrest in 2002.

The jury at his murder trial in New Westminster watched a videotaped recording of the conversation, which took place in a jail cell with a police officer who was posing as a suspect arrested for attempted murder.

Prosecutors say that on a section of the tape not yet viewed by the jury, Pickton talks of having killed 49 women and planning to kill one more.

Pickton, now 57, has pleaded not guilty, and prosecutors have not described any of his comments as a confession.

He has been charged with 26 murders, although this trial deals with only six of the charges. The court divided the case into two trials to make it easier for the jury.

Pickton tells his cell mate that he was a pig farmer who did not drink or do drugs, and could not believe he was facing murder charges. He also complained that the police search had kicked him off the farm where he had lived for almost his entire life.

"I'm screwed, tattooed, nailed to the cross..." he complains, saying police want to charge him with 50 murders.

Pickton, in court on Monday, read a transcript of the taped conversation and occasionally looked up at the officer, who was in the courtroom as a witness but cannot be identified by the media because of a court order.

Police say Pickton lured drug addicts and prostitutes to his farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, near Vancouver. There, police say, he killed them, butchered the bodies and then disposed of the remains both on the property and at an animal waste rendering plant.

The victims were among more than 60 women who disappeared from Vancouver's drug-ridden Downtown Eastside neighborhood from the late 1980s until late 2001.

The jury of seven men and five women has already viewed a tape of a lengthy police interrogation of Pickton, also made after his arrest in February 2002 on the first two murder charges.

In that tape Pickton initially denies knowing anything about the missing women, but later suggests he would be willing to tell police about the killings if they agree to stop searching his farm.

Defence lawyers say interrogators tricked Pickton by lying to him about the evidence, and he was too tired at the end to know what he was saying.

The search lasted for 18 months and police say they eventually found the DNA of more than 30 of the missing women at the ramshackle farm in a Vancouver suburb.

Pickton, his brother and sister had been slowly selling off the family's farmland to housing developers, and Pickton told the undercover officer he was about to close it down.

"Hey, they (the police) just closed me down," Pickton said.

 

20070204: Former prostitutes cover Canadian serial killer trial Vancouver Serial Killer News

Baptie wrote that nothing had prepared her for the first day of the trial, 'listening to the Crown describe how heads of victims were cut in half, how bodies had been mutilated and other atrocities I will let other media report', she wrote.

The details of the serial murders of six prostitutes and drug addicts in Canada's Vancouver have turned so grisly in the second week that some newspapers have stopped printing them, or are offering them only online.

Robert Pickton, 56, stands charged with killing at least 26 of 61 women who vanished over nearly 20 years from the seedy lower east side of Vancouver. For years, police barely raised an eyebrow until they found gruesome evidence on a pig farm outside the western Canadian city.

But for two Canadian reporters, telling the full story is not up for debate.

Pauline VanKoll, 42, and Trisha Baptie, 33, former prostitutes and drug addicts who worked in the same poverty-stricken Vancouver neighbourhood as the victims, are reporting on the trial for orato.com, a citizen journalism website.

The numbing work of the police, sifting through 292,824 cubic metres of soil and sending 400,000 swabs of evidence to the laboratory, helped sweep away Baptie's distrust of the police.

'The police might not have taken the missing women seriously at first, but when they found the first signs of something seriously wrong, it is pretty evident they threw all the resources they could at it,' she wrote.

And while still bitter that her 'friends will still be dead no matter what new policies and procedures', she writes they may not have died 'in vain if through all this, some very serious and open discussions happen around drug detoxification beds, drug rehabilitation', better supports for kids in care and 'safety for the girls on the streets'.

Only the first six cases Pickton is charged with are on trial now, and the remaining 20 are to be tried later over the coming year or more.

Pickton, who has pleaded not guilty, was arrested in 2002, triggering an 18- month forensic marathon on his farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam. Prosecutors say DNA evidence was found from some of the missing women.

The bloody details - of decapitated heads being split in half and other violations - have drawn criticism from readers. Media interest has dropped off dramatically for the second week of the trial with the number of reporters at the courtroom far less than the 350 that were initially accredited.

When the trial opened early last week, many Canadians were angered at the sensational tone of coverage, prompting several media outlets to change their coverage and issue warnings about the graphic material. Some papers offered two formats of coverage: a censored version in print and an uncensored version online.

But for VanKoll and Baptie, the focus is not on the terrifying details but on the victims.

Paul Sullivan, editor-in-chief of orato.com, explained that the women, who have been off the street and drug-free for several years, were selected for their life experiences rather than their journalism backgrounds.

'We tried to find people to give first-person accounts. We wanted people who had lived the story and feel the story - who are the story,' he said.

Sullivan said the testimony has been hard on the fledgling reporters, and that their job is to add to the context of the story by explaining life on the street.

'Both women see this as part of their healing but it's been tough,' he admitted. 'I don't know if they were ready for the impact of sitting in the same courtroom as Pickton.'

VanKoll and Baptie's reports are raw and emotional.

'My anger at the end of last week's trial was almost uncontrollable. It reminded me of the anger I once felt when I was on the street. I couldn't hold back my tears for the street sisters killed,' VanKoll wrote last week.

Baptie wrote that nothing had prepared her for the first day of the trial, 'listening to the Crown describe how heads of victims were cut in half, how bodies had been mutilated and other atrocities I will let other media report', she wrote.

Pickton is the first person to be charged in the disappearances, which were not initially probed because, police explained, women working in the sex trade are difficult to track and there was no evidence that they had been abducted. 

 

20070126: Cop warned bosses about potential serial killer in '99 Vancouver Serial Killer News

As the first week of the sensational Robert Pickton trial wrapped up yesterday, former Vancouver cop Kim Rossmo said he couldn’t help but feel a sense of failure.

Rossmo is the veteran officer who warned his bosses in 1999 about the possibility of a serial killer preying on prostitutes in the Downtown Eastside – several years before Pickton’s arrest. At the time, Rossmo’s superiors stubbornly dismissed the theory.

“There was a key individual whose mind was made up quickly,” he told the Sun today, accusing his former supervisors of contracting a “serious case of tunnel vision and a little bit of group think.”

Eight years later, Rossmo is in a position to say, “I told you so,” but he finds no comfort in gloating.

“It’s one of those cases where you wish you were wrong,”_he added. “How can you feel good about it? It’s hard to feel any sort of satisfaction.”

By his count, there were 10 more confirmed deaths before the Port Coquitlam pig farmer was arrested.

“It’s frustrating and it’s a tragedy,” he said.

In 1998, the criminal profiler began looking at Vancouver’s missing women cases. He wasn’t ready to buy into the widely held belief that all these transient women from skid row had simply moved.

“If they moved, you’d expect them to notify the welfare office to collect their cheques and that wasn’t happening,” he said, calling that a significant warning sign. Rossmo obtained records of missing people dating back 20 years and discovered the tally jumped dramatically in 1995.

After further investigation, Rossmo refused to chalk it up to a statistical anomaly.

“You have too much happening in too short a time period in too small an area for it to be random,” he explained.

Among the questions he asked were: Why was it happening here? And why weren’t they finding any bodies? “To me, the only explanation was a serial killer,” he said.

Rossmo, whose sister lives in Edmonton, is now a research professor at Texas State University’s criminal justice department and a management consultant with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He won’t say if he’s involved with Project KARE – the RCMP-led investigation looking into the deaths and disappearances of 70 people, including prostitutes – in Edmonton and surrounding areas because the investigation is ongoing. But he readily admits Mounties and Edmonton cops have learned a lot from the Vancouver snafu.

“That’s arguably one of the good things that came out of the missing women mess,”_he said.

Rossmo wrote a book on geographic profiling, which is based on the premise that most criminals commit their crimes close to home. He advised that the public – “the greatest group that helps solve crimes” – must stay informed and vigilant.

 

20070126: The Case of the Serial Killer Vancouver Serial Killer News

Wedged between white-capped mountains and sparkling blue ocean, Vancouver is lauded for multicultural livability, ranked worldwide as a top travel destination and is preparing to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. But lately a grim pall has blanketed the western Canadian city of 2.2 million, for reasons far worse than the freak winter storms. The harrowing details of a grotesque serial killer case are bringing to the surface the city's seamy underworld, usually confined to the squalid 10-block open drug and sex market known as the Downtown Eastside.

The seaminess surrounds the trial of pig farmer Robert William Pickton, charged with murdering 26 drug-addicted prostitutes. The trial, which an earlier judge warned would be "as bad as a horror movie," began Jan. 22 and is expected to last a year. A jury will hear evidence on the first six charges of murder. (The remaining 20 charges will be brought to court after the first six.) Prosecutor Derrill Prevett described in his opening statement how police searching Pickton's ramshackle suburban pig farm about 15 miles east of Vancouver in 2002 found two women's heads in a freezer, cleaved in two and packed with their hands and feet. Human bones were found buried deep under an old pig pen. In Pickton's mobile-home trailer, said Prevett, police discovered a gun and a sex toy with DNA from Pickton and Mona Wilson, one of the alleged victims.

"I couldn't imagine," said Wilson's former foster mother, Norma Garley, nearly wordless. "Something like that happening to somebody in my family." Garley and her family took Wilson in at age seven, after the girl was sexually abused by family members. When Wilson was 14 social workers moved her, but the Garleys kept in touch and Wilson telephoned them just before December 2001, when she vanished. Until the trial, the Garleys had no idea the girl they called "Running Bear," the name honoring Wilson's aboriginal heritage, had grown up to become a drug addict selling sex on Downtown Eastside streets. In her last call to the Garleys, Wilson told them she was engaged to be married and doing well, Garley sobbed in an interview with TIME. "Mona always wanted us to have a good opinion of her."

The fates of Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Marnie Frey and Georgina Faith Papin are emerging in British Columbia Supreme Court, in the gritty Vancouver suburb of New Westminster. There, Pickton sits calmly behind bullet-resistant glass, an unimposing slim man with a fringe of lank grey hair around a bald pate. Now 57, he has become well-known in legal circles since his arrest in February 2002. But only now has the end of a Canadian publication ban, intended to ensure an impartial jury hearing, revealed the gruesome details of his case. Pickton has become instantly famous. "You're like the pope," a police officer told Pickton in a recorded interrogation played before the jury. Some 350 journalists are accredited and the trial is making global as well as local headlines. Each day curious spectators, including a class of teenagers from a local Christian school and several elderly people, jostle with family and friends of the victims for limited public seating.

The attention is new, but that Downtown Eastside prostitutes die gruesome deaths is old news, and largely ignored. Scores of women from that area have vanished since 1978. Only in 2001 did Canada's national police force, then investigating a separate case of prostitute serial killings in the province, team up with Vancouver police. The joint task force now lists more than 60 missing women; police said the DNA, remains or belongings of about half of those have been linked to Pickton's pig farm.

The missing women case has been the catalyst for a sea change in public attitudes to illegal drugs in British Columbia. Vancouver now leads North America in treating addiction as a health and social problem as well as a crime. It hosts the continent's only supervised heroin injection site, as well as a clinic dispensing free heroin in a scientific trial. But not much has changed at street level in the Downtown Eastside. Some 15,000 injection-drug addicts, many of them mentally ill, are concentrated in Canada's most impoverished neighborhood. An estimated 1500 female addicts continue to sell so called "survival sex," at all times and in all weather. Reporters interviewing the women about the Pickton trial were shocked to find that many didn't know about it, or care.

"Women who still live and work down here knew women who have died and gone missing," said Kate Gibson, executive director of WISH, a drop-in center for sex-trade workers. "They are still out there working on the street, and they still face the same violence, stigmatization, and discrimination every day."

Pickton's lawyer Peter Ritchie says his client is innocent, and that he will refute the prosecution's evidence. Pickton's own voice is directly heard only in a videotaped police interrogation after his arrest and the first two charges were brought in February 2002. Played to the jury, the tape shows him mumbling and at times appearing barely cognizant of events. "I'm just a pig farmer," Pickton tells police. "I'm a working guy, that's all I am." When told he was charged with two murders and was being investigated in the disappearances of 50 more women, he laughed. "Hogwash," he said, slouched over a chair in the interview room beside some potted palms. "I'm nailed to the cross," he said repeatedly. And when police asked if he killed as many as 50 women, Pickton complained: "You make me out to be more of a mass murderer than I am."

As Pickton's tale unfolds in court in a local suburb, the streets outside throng with police and sheriffs, panhandlers and patients released from a local mental hospital, college students and office workers who line up at local coffee shops. A stone's throw from the court is a strip joint advertising, in neon, "Mugs and Jugs." Nearby, a shop displays garish Valentine's Day wares: a larger-than-life knight in shining armor standing tall beside a Queen of Hearts. It's a costume shop, of course. Vancouver, in these dark days, has a dearth of real-life romantic heroes.

 

 

20070125: Jurors see video of serial killer questioning BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Jurors in the trial of a farmer accused of killing 26 women watched videotaped interviews Wednesday in which he denies knowing the victims and asks a police officer: "Do I look like a murderer?"

Robert William Pickton, 56, is charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder in the most sensational murder trial Canada has ever faced. Most of the victims were prostitutes and addicts who vanished from a drug-ridden Vancouver neighborhood in the 1990s.

He is accused of luring women to his pig farm outside Vancouver, where investigators say he threw drunken raves with prostitutes and drugs.

The first trial covers the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. Pickton has pleaded not guilty to the first six counts of murder and a separate trial will be held for the other 20 killings.

In the videotape shown Wednesday, Pickton is slumped in his chair, often with his head in his hands as he is interviewed by Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Bill Fordy.

Fordy is seen telling Pickton a "huge amount" of blood was in his trailer on the farm.

"That's human blood, lots of it," Fordy says. "That's Mona Wilson's blood. This is where she'd been dumped. There's DNA all over the place; it's on the floors, it's on the walls."

"But that don't mean I did it," Pickton says.

Prosecutors have said Pickton told an undercover officer planted in his jail cell that he killed 49 women and intended to make it "an even 50."

When the trial began Monday, prosecutors laid out some of the gruesome evidence against Pickton, including skulls of women found at Pickton's farm.
 

20070123: Accused serial killer Robert Pickton bows to judge as trial begins Vancouver Serial Killer News
Robert Pickton walked purposefully from his holding cell outside the courtroom, stopped briefly to bow toward Justice James Williams, then strode the five metres to the prisoner's box.

His trial on sensational charges that he murdered and dismembered six sex-trade workers from Vancouver's gritty Downtown Eastside had begun. But as Crown prosecutor Derrill Prevett opened the case with a chilling but dispassionate recital of the evidence against the pig farmer, Pickton stared straight ahead, motionless and little different from the way he has responded in court during years of preliminary arguments.

Dressed in white sneakers, casual black pants and a grey short-sleeved shirt, Pickton scribbled a few notes on a white legal pad, but showed no emotion and did not look at the seven men and five women of the jury.

Mostly, he sat still as a mannequin.

The stringy hair remains, but the straggly beard he was wearing in a television clip that has aired hundreds of times is gone. Instead, his angular features are clean, showing baby-faced skin.

Beyond the floor-to-ceiling plexiglass barrier that separates Pickton from family members of those he's accused of killing, the horror of what the Crown was alleging took its toll on some.

A man who was sitting with relatives of alleged victim Marnie Frey lurched forward and began sobbing. The man, in his 30s, left the courtroom moments later and was helped outside by staff from Victim Services.

At other times, stifled sniffles could be heard in the courtroom and some people wiped their eyes.

Jury members, however, did not wince as Prevett spent an hour explaining the grisly crime scene police encountered after executing a routine search warrant looking for illegal firearms on the pig farm.

Court heard investigators eventually uncovered three severed heads, other human bones, guns, ammunition, leg irons, handcuffs and at least one sex toy.

Lead defence lawyer Peter Ritchie, sitting closest to the jury box, glanced at the jurors as Prevett made his opening statement.

He later urged the jurors to listen to all the evidence, watch the witnesses' testimony and demeanour and, above all, keep in mind his contention that "Mr. Pickton did not kill or participate in the killing of these six women."

The case has attracted hordes of media for the trial but there were a couple of empty seats in the main courtroom and many of the seats in the overflow courtroom were not taken.

Some people began gathering outside the Vancouver-area courthouse before dawn. Television and radio stations delivered their morning programs from in front of the courthouse.

But despite saturation coverage, most of the people lining up to go through security in the predawn were family members or reporters.

Tight security has been in place at the courthouse since last year when arguments under a publication ban began. It was slightly more elaborate Monday.

In the past, visitors were asked to empty out their pockets before going through a metal detector, but on Monday they had to line up a second time to go through same process to gain entry to the two courtrooms.

Purses and briefcases were searched.

One man who stood in the damp morning darkness to be assured of a seat was turned away at the second check point because he was wearing shorts. Not appropriate courtroom attire, he was told.

Kristina Fetterholt, a criminology student at Simon Fraser University, did manage to get into the courtroom.

She said when Pickton's Port Coquitlam pig farm was raided and he was charged, she was a 16-year-old student at Terry Fox Secondary School there.

She's now a year away from graduation at Simon Fraser University and hopes to go to law school.

She said one of the new textbooks her class is studying contains a picture and a reference to Pickton.

 

 

20070121: Serial killer's "horror movie" trial to begin Vancouver Serial Killer News
Jurors in one of the most anticipated trials in Canadian history will begin hearing evidence against accused serial killer Robert William Pickton tomorrow, having been warned by the judge to expect testimony "as bad as a horror movie".

Pickton, 56, is charged with the murders of 26 women, most of whom were prostitutes and drug addicts who vanished from Vancouver's impoverished Downtown Eastside neighborhood in the 1990s.

The pig farmer has pleaded not guilty to six first-degree murder charges in his first trial, which is expected to last at least one year.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice James Williams, who is presiding over the case, has ruled that the other charges will be heard in a later trial so as not to overburden the jury.

Evidence presented in more than a year of preliminary hearings, which has been under a publication ban, has been so gruesome that some reporters have sought psychological counselling.

Under the ban, those details have remained off limits to the print and broadcast media for publication. Williams ruled earlier this week, however, that the ban on courtroom testimony would be lifted tomorrow since neither the defence nor the prosecution has expressed any objection.

If convicted on more than 14 charges, "Willie" Pickton would become the worst serial killer in Canadian history, after Clifford Robert Olson, convicted in the sex slayings of 11 children in the Vancouver area in the early 1980s, and Marc Lepine, who gunned down 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnic in Montreal in 1989 before shooting himself.

The trial will be Canada's largest-ever murder trial by jury, and more than 300 reporters are accredited to cover the case.

Pickton was arrested in February 2002 and has been in custody since then. It is alleged that he lured women to his family's seven hectare pig farm outside Vancouver.

Sarah de Vries is among the women in the second set of murder charges against Pickton. A 1995 entry in her diary revealed the prostitute was aware of the dangers she faced working the streets.

"Am I next?" she wrote. "Is he watching me now? Is he stalking me like a predator and his prey? Waiting, waiting for some perfect spot, time or my stupid mistake."

After Pickton was arrested and the first traces of DNA of some missing women were allegedly found on the farm, the buildings were razed and the province spent an estimated US$61 million ($77.3 million) to sift through acres of soil at the farm.

Health officials then issued a tainted-meat advisory to neighbours who may have bought pork from the Pickton farm, concerned the meat may have contained human remains.

This is not the first time Pickton has appeared before a judge. He was charged with attempted murder and unlawful confinement in 1997 in the case of sex worker Wendy Lynn Eistetter.

She claimed she had been handcuffed and attacked at the farm, but Pickton countered he acted in self defence, and for reasons that were never really clear, the charges were dropped.

In a departure from standard procedures in Canadian criminal trials, the defence has been granted 15 minutes to make an opening statement before the prosecution begins to outline its case tomorrow.

Pickton is represented by a legal team headed by well-known Vancouver trial lawyer Peter Ritchie, who declined to be interviewed.

The prosecution is expected to call about 240 witnesses.

The case will be heard in a cramped, 35-seat courtroom in a Vancouver suburb. A special spillover media room has been constructed with closed circuit TV into the courtroom for the dozens of reporters who will not be able to get seats.

Pickton has sat day after day for pre-trial hearings in a specially built defendant's box surrounded by bulletproof glass. Clean-shaven with a bald crown and shoulder-length hair, he has barely moved, though occasionally he chuckles to himself or scribbles in a notebook.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Vancouver Police Department have come under intense criticism by community activists and advocates for sex-trade workers, who claim authorities were slow to search for the missing women because they were outcasts of society.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Joint Task Force has countered that its resources were limited and the magnitude of the case overwhelming.

The task force says it has located at least 102 women believed to be missing. Another 62 women remained on the list as of December, as well as three unidentified DNA profiles from the Pickton farm.

The trial beginning tomorrow covers the murders of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.

Lynn and Rick Frey said Friday they were devastated after being served earlier in the week with a subpoena to appear as a witness, calling it a slap in the face.

"Pickton was charged in 2002. This is 2007," Rick Frey told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "Does it take them five years to figure out that we're going to be possible witnesses?"

Lynn Frey said she would go to court to sit in one of the seats reserved for families of the victims.

"I want to know what happened to Marnie," she said of her daughter, who was 25 when she disappeared in August 1997. "I don't know if I can handle it, but I want to hear it."

Pickton is also charged in the deaths of Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Kerry Koski, Wendy Crawford, Debra Lynne Jones, Tiffany Drew, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Diana Melnick, Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock, Heather Bottomley, Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.

 

20070116: Trial Set For Canadian Pig Farmer In Serial Killings BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Five years after his dramatic arrest, the trial is set to begin of alleged serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton, a Canadian pig farmer accused of abducting and murdering 26 sex trade workers and disposing of the bodies on his farm.

If convicted on all the charges, he would gain the infamous title as Canada's most prolific serial killer ever. Court testimony begins next Monday.

The 56-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

The 26 women he is charged with murdering all came from Vancouver's lower east side, a poverty-stricken area rife with drugs and prostitution.

Pickton was arrested in 2002 and charged with 15 counts of murder after dozens of police officers descended on his pig farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam.

For the next eighteen months, forensic experts combed the farm's buildings and land, reportedly finding DNA evidence from the missing women.

Twelve more charges of first degree murder were added in May 2005, bringing the total to 27.

One charge was dropped last March after officials failed to match a DNA sample found on the farm with a missing person.

Sixty-one women, including Pickton's alleged victims, vanished from the lower east side neighbourhood between 1983 and 2002.

Pickton is the first person to be charged in relation to the disappearances, which were not initially reported because, police explained, women working in the sex trade are difficult to track and there was no evidence that they had been abducted.

The cases of the 35 other unaccounted-for women remain unresolved.

In 2004, the story made grisly headlines when a local public health official revealed that he could not rule out the possibility that remains of the murdered women had been mixed in with meat processed on the farm and sold to neighbours and visitors.

For families of the victims, the proceedings represent a chance for closure and potential answers to a decade's worth of questions.

"I want so badly to know what happened to Sereena," Anna Draayers, a foster parent of Sereena Abotsway, one of the alleged victims, told the Vancouver Sun newspaper. "I will be so happy when this is over and done with."

Pickton is facing two separate trials for the alleged murders, a scenario designed, the presiding judge explained, to lessen the burden placed on jurors in the case, lower the chances of a mistrial and reduce the length of the proceedings.

The preliminary hearings to the first trial, which involves six charges of first degree murder, wrapped up earlier this week, setting the stage for prosecutors to make their case to a jury.

Lawyers for the government and Pickton's defence team have been wrangling since last January behind closed doors over the admissibility of evidence.

There will be no publication ban on the proceedings, giving Canadians the first official glimpse of the details of the disturbing case.

Justice James Williams warned the 12 jurors and two alternates chosen from over 600 people that the evidence they will hear will be "graphic and distressing."

Families of some of the victims have been vocal over what they see as the Vancouver police department's apathy in investigating the cases and reluctance to identify the murders as the work of a serial killer.

Had the women not been prostitutes or drug addicts and had the public known that a serial killer was at large, they have argued, much more attention would have been paid to the disappearances and more effort would have been put towards protecting those at risk.

The trials are expected to be the longest and most expensive in Canadian history. Prosecutors will reportedly call on an estimated 240 witnesses to give testimony.

Canada's current worst mass murderer is Clifford Olson. In 1982, the Vancouver resident pleaded guilty to murdering 11 children. He is currently serving a life sentence in a Montreal jail.
 

20070108: Time for politicians to change outdated sex laws Vancouver Serial Killer News
Scarlett Lake sips herbal tea in the Sutton Place, a picture of demure middle-aged elegance as she advocates for those in the personal entertainment field. You probably know them as gigolos, hookers, whores, prostitutes or sex-trade workers. A madam in Vancouver for more than three decades, Scarlett, who prefers to be known by her first name professionally, thinks it's time people started talking about sex laws like adults, and it's time we changed those dealing with prostitution. She's angry that politicians continue to shirk that responsibility while women are being abused and murdered on the streets of Canadian cities. These laws are from another time, Scarlett maintains, and don't address the real problems. Also, they have failed miserably to eradicate, curtail or even slow the booming growth of the sex-for-cash industry in this country. "I'm ready to move up a couple of steps and franchise," Scarlett laughed, reflecting on her own success. "Wouldn't you? When you've developed an area of expertise and a following? I stopped having a double life nearly 10 years ago. Things I was afraid were going to happen, didn't." I met Scarlett nearly five years ago and she was advocating then for amendments to the Criminal Code. In those days, she was attending conferences, giving lectures and insisting the legislation prohibiting professional sexual transactions will one day be considered a gross violation of individual human rights. Others were speaking out, too. Parliament responded by appointing a committee that spent a ton of time and money studying the subject. But instead of solving the problem, the lawmakers at the end of last month threw up their hands as if confronted by some Gordian knot. "They're being chicken not taking a stance," Scarlett fumed. "They're worried about their political hides while women are dying out there. Let's get real. Look at what has happened in Britain [with the arrest of an accused serial killer], look at what is happening in Edmonton [with the arrest of an accused serial killer], and with the start of the Willy Pickton [accused serial killer] murder trial [which starts later this month]. Can't they see these laws put women at risk?" Indeed, some researchers believe that perhaps as many as 200 marginalized women working the street across the country have been murdered within recent years. Scarlett and many, many other people, including me, believe these women died because they were forced into dangerous lonely areas because of these bad laws. These laws are also unfairly enforced. Those who operate escort services, who advertise on the Internet, who do business discreetly, are rarely bothered by police, while streetwalkers (who represent only a small section of the sex-services trade) are targeted because they are a public nuisance. "The laws are pushing things underground and keeping them there -- that's not good," Scarlett said. "These laws are so old, we're a whole different culture in terms of our moral stance. The West Coast is the most open part of North America. There's a live-and-let-live attitude and the lawmakers just keep putting their head in the sand. People on the street have much broader and more permissive attitudes." She's right. Check out the erotic services available through such hugely popular websites as vancouver.craigslist.org. Or have a look at the infinite wealth of fetishist and specialty material offered on the Internet. Turn on your radio and tune in a popular music station -- and no, not one broadcasting Pleistocene-era "goldies" by musicians now ready for embalming. Something recorded after Madonna's nude period. Sex is a pervasive element of popular culture. "How ridiculous it is that the special subcommittee on solicitation laws backed down from taking any action to protect working women in this country," Scarlett said. I think she's right and it's time politicians listened. You'll be seeing and hearing more of Scarlett -- she'll be on CBC-Newsworld Jan. 23 as part of a documentary entitled A Safer Sex Trade, a broadcast that will coincide with the opening of the Pickton trial. The film explores the lives of three Vancouver women who sell sex: Jennifer, who returns to the streets to meet basic survival needs; Simone, an independent escort, offering "girlfriend experiences" to executives; and Scarlett, who operates a boutique brothel [www.cheapanddirty.ca/index_safer.php]. "Prostitution is the final sexual frontier," Scarlett added. "I think people will learn a lot. And I think people will be interested in the comments of my father and brother." If you have no personal experience in this world, it will be an eye-opener. Let's hope it also helps motivate discussion and much-needed law reform. "But if we don't see some movement," Scarlett said, putting down her tea cup, "we plan a Charter challenge."
 

20061218: Delay In Suspected Serial Killer Trial Vancouver Serial Killer News
The judge overseeing the trial of Robert Pickton has ruled there will be no publication ban when he stands trial on January 22nd - two weeks after it was originally planned to begin. The trial, which was meant to start on January 8th, has been postponed because of expected delays from media and defense counsel petitions that still need to be addressed, according to Justice James Williams statement Monday after he informed the jury. Media petitions for access to exhibits in the murder trial are part of the reason for the delay, which here meant to be heard this week. Lead defense for Pickton, Peter Ritchie, said he was not looking to pursue a publication ban until the second trial, fearing the defense team could not stand the controversy such an application would produce at this time. Pickton has been charged with six counts of murder in this, the first trial of two that will eventually accuse him of an additional 20 counts of first-degree murder. He has been held in a pre-trial center in British Columbia since his arrest in 2002.
 

20061209: Jury selection begins in Canada serial killer case BC New Westminister Serial Killer News

Accused serial killer Robert Pickton pleaded not guilty on Saturday as jury selection began in the first of two trials he faces in the deaths of 26 Vancouver women.

The pig farmer and junk dealer who went by the name "Willie" Pickton initially will be tried on only six of the 26 murder charges. The court has divided the charges into two trials in an effort to make it easier to get a jury.

About 500 potential jurors filed through a court in New Westminster, with some saying they were worried about the expected length of the trial.

Lawyers have said it could last more than a year.

"It's a civic duty, but obviously it is going to be a hardship for anyone who has got to do it," said one woman as she prepared to join the line of people entering the court.

Pickton, accused of being Canada's worst serial killer, had to re-enter his plea on the first six murder counts because of the decision to have two trials.

"Not guilty, your honour," he said in a soft but firm voice to each count.

His back was to the audience as he sat in the prisoner's box, and he never turned around to see the prospective jurors as they were brought before the judge in groups of 30 for initial instructions.

The 26 victims were among nearly 70 drug addicts and sex trade workers who disappeared from Vancouver's poor Downtown Eastside neighbourhood from the late 1980s to shortly before Pickton's arrest in February 2002.

The missing women's investigation drew wide publicity even before Pickton was accused, and prospective jurors who talked to reporters admitted they were familiar with the case.

"Everybody knows about it," one man said.

Due to the case's notoriety, the prosecution and defence will question prospective jurors more thoroughly than usual to determine potential biases.

Both sides said Saturday's hearing went smoothly and predicted they would be able to select a jury of 12 people. Arguments in the trial are set to begin January 8.

Police searched Pickton's ramshackle farm and junkyard in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam for nearly two years after his arrest using earthmoving equipment and search teams trained in forensic archaeology.

Investigators say they found the DNA of at least 31 of the missing women -- although not all could be used as evidence to support murder charges.

 

 

20061012: Accused serial killer Pickton suspect in death of Victoria woman, says RCMP Victoria Serial Killer News
Accused serial killer Robert Pickton is a suspect in the discovery of a missing Victoria woman's DNA at his notorious pig farm near Vancouver, the RCMP said Thursday. But the Mounties said they are not about to expand their Missing Women's Task Force investigation to Vancouver Island, where Victoria police have 18 unsolved homicides and at least two missing women's cases. Pickton pleaded not guilty after being charged with killing 26 missing sex-trade workers whose DNA was found at the Port Coquitlam farm. Police said they contacted the family of Nancy Ann Clark in Victoria this week to confirm her DNA was found at the Pickton farm. Clark, 25, who was also known as Nancy Greek, disappeared from downtown Victoria in August 1991. She was a known sex-trade worker, but was also described by police as a caring mother who never left home for lengthy periods. Clark had two daughters - one eight months, the other eight years old - when she disappeared. Calls to her mother's home this week were answered, but the residents politely declined to discuss the news about Clark. RCMP Cpl. Pierre Lemaitre, a spokesman for the task force, said the Mounties and Victoria Police are attempting to determine how Clark, who was last seen in downtown Victoria, ended up at Pickton's farm. "At this stage, the missing women's task force is preparing its report directly related to what they found to present to the Crown to see what their next legal course of action will be," he said. Lemaitre said Pickton is a suspect in the Clark case. "I think that is a safe assumption given the fact that again it came from the Pickton property," he said. "He would be considered a suspect." Lemaitre said the discovery of Clark's DNA at the Pickton farm is an unexpected development because police were looking for women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and Victoria Police were looking for Clark on Vancouver Island. "With historical homicides, it's gritty, determined police work," said Lemaitre. "It's going back and reviewing what witnesses may have said. You never know, somebody may have been withholding some information all those years and they've got it on their conscience." The Crown had confirmed last month that Pickton would face trial on only six counts of first-degree murder when a jury begins hearing the case in January. A Crown spokesman has said that only after the trial is over would the Crown consider any new charges against Pickton. Originally, Pickton had been charged on one indictment with murdering 26 women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years. Justice James Williams ruled a trial on 26 counts of murder all at once would be too much for jurors to comprehend and would drag the case on needlessly. The Crown has said a trial on the remaining 20 charges would proceed later. The missing women's task force has confirmed the discovery of DNA from 33 women at the Pickton farm. Evidence obtained at the property continues to be analyzed. At one point in the investigation, police published an official list of missing women that included more than 60 names. Clark was added to the list in December 2001.
 

20060914: Accused serial killer Pickton to face two trials, starting with six charges BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Accused serial killer Robert Pickton will face trial on only six counts of first-degree murder when a jury begins hearing the case in January, the Crown confirmed Friday. But even though the slimmed-down case will simplify things, Pickton's lawyers say they will likely ask a judge for permission to question potential jurors more closely than usual before a panel of 12 is chosen. Crown lawyers said Friday they will follow a court's recommendation last month and hold two trials for Pickton on charges that he murdered 26 women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside over several years. "We looked at all the rulings and the nature of the evidence and it was determined from our perspective that it was the most prudent course of action to proceed with the six counts," Crown spokesman Stan Lowe said outside B.C. Supreme Court. A trial on the remaining 20 will follow later. Last month, Justice James Williams ruled a trial on 26 counts of murder all at once would be too much for jurors to comprehend and would drag the case on needlessly. Williams ruled the split was necessary in "the interests of justice" and that the evidence in the six cases is "materially different" than in the other 20 cases. The Crown said then it hadn't decided how to proceed, but prosecutor Mike Petrie told Williams on Friday that jurors will begin hearing testimony in January on six counts. The second trial on the remaining 20 charges is to take place sometime later. Petrie said the Crown plans to file a new indictment in the coming weeks charging Pickton with the deaths of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. Pickton turns 57 next month and appeared in court via video link. He was charged almost five years ago and his trial was expected to take two years, but now that the case has been divided, it's expected jurors will only have to sit through one year of testimony. Defence lawyer Peter Ritchie welcomed the decision to begin with six counts. "It's just too much to take on to go ahead with all the counts at the same time," he said. "The practicalities are such that we have a jury trial here and you can't expect a jury is going to be subjected to an ordeal (of 26 counts.)" Jurors are to be selected in December. Hundreds of people are expected to be called for jury duty. One estimate had as many as 3,500 people receiving notices, compared with a normal murder trial in which 500 people are called. From those, 12 will be selected to be jurors. The jury pool will be assembled on Dec. 9 - a Saturday - and then broken into smaller groupings. The selection of the 12 jurors and two alternates was to begin Dec. 11. Ritchie told reporters outside court he might make applications for the defence to ask potential jurors questions they aren't normally asked. Usually, Canadian candidates for a jury are only asked if they have heard of the case and if they can remain impartial. American lawyers have more latitude. "Maybe the Americans are ahead of us in selecting juries efficiently," said Ritchie. "I'm going to be putting some ideas in front of the judge about that." Ritchie didn't say specifically what kind of questions he wanted to ask, but said the obvious one is whether jury candidates have heard of the case and whether they've drawn any conclusions. "Everyone, to some extent, has heard about this case. And so, we'll have to sort out through that to get 12 people who have a fair view," he said. "I think we can do it." He added he thought it highly doubtful he'd ever find 12 people who had heard nothing about the case. Following Williams' ruling last month, some legal observers suggested the defence or Crown may ask to have the first trial heard under a blanket publication ban in order to protect Pickton's right to a fair trial in the second case. Ritchie said Friday the defence hadn't considered that yet, but he doubted they would make that request. Lowe steered clear of saying what the Crown would do. The other 20 women not included in the judge's six counts are: Cara Ellis, Andrea Borhaven, Kerry Koski, Wendy Crawford, Debra Lynne Jones, Tiffany Drew, Sarah de Vries, Cynthia Feliks, Angela Jardine, Diana Melnick, Jacqueline McDonell, Diane Rock, Heather Bottomley, Jennifer Furminger, Helen Hallmark, Patricia Johnson, Heather Chinnock, Tanya Holyk, Sherry Irving and Inga Hall.
 

20060908: Accused serial killer Pickton to face two trials BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
The charges against accused serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton will proceed with a first trial on six counts, to be followed by a second 20-count trial, the Crown indicated Friday. Justice James Williams ruled in August that the charges against Pickton should be broken into two groups but it was not decided at that time which trial would start first. The trial is set to begin on Jan. 8, 2007. Pickton is charged with killing 26 women who disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Stan Lowe, who speaks for the prosecutors in the Pickton case, said Friday that proceeding with a six-count trial does not weaken the Crown's case. Those counts pertain to the first-degree murder of Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. The defence does not anticipate asking for a publication ban during the first trial to avoid contaminating a jury pool for the second 20-count trial, said defence lawyer Peter Ritchie . Lowe was non-committal when asked the same question. Ritchie said a trial with just six counts will make it easier for a jury to digest the evidence, and could shorten the hearing to one year in length. Ritchie previously estimated a 26-count trial could last two years. Normally, under the Canadian system, potential jurors are asked only if it would be a hardship to serve on the jury, Ritchie said. Pickton was not in court Friday, but monitored the proceedings through a videolink to the North Fraser Pretrial Centre where he has been in custody since February 2002. The proceedings are to resume on Sept. 18 for more pre-trial hearings. All evidence is under a publication ban until the trial starts.
 

20060908: Accused serial killer Robert Pickton back in court Vancouver Serial Killer News
The case against accused serial killer Robert Pickton was back in court this morning as Crown Counsel formally indicating it will be proceeding first with a trial on just 6 of the 26 counts against him. The decision stems from a ruling by Justice Jim Williams last month, severing the case into two seperate trials, one involving six counts of first degree murder, the other involving the remaining 20. Crown Spokesperson Stan Lowe says they have now officially confirmed to the court the trial involving the six will proceed first. ".....from this point on, the prosecution will focus its attention exclusively on the trial involving the six counts of first degree murder and once that matter is concluded before the courts, will shift its focus to the remaining trail" Jury selection is slated to begin December 9th with the trial getting underway January 8th.
 

20060503: Pickton trial could last years BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
The lead lawyer for the man accused of being Canada's worst serial killer says a jury trial for Robert Pickton could go on for almost two years and testimony may not begin this fall as planned.

"We have come up with estimates as high as 90 weeks, which is alarming - 90 weeks with adjournments, and that could put us close to a two-year trial," Peter Ritchie told Justice James Williams in B.C. Supreme Court.

Ritchie cautioned the time-frame is the defence's guess based on the Crown going ahead with the 26 murder counts that Pickton is charged with.

"Our best guess is, admittedly highly speculative," Ritchie told Williams.

After listening to Ritchie's submission, the judge said, jokingly: "You may need a younger trial judge."

Ritchie noted a two-year trial length "gives rise to some very serious issues about a jury."

In Canada, defence and Crown lawyers pick 12 jurors and two alternates. But once the trial starts hearing evidence, the two alternates are dismissed. Under the law, a trial must start over if the number of jurors drops below 10.

"Just to make sure we are all clear here," said Ritchie as the accused sat behind him in the prisoner's box.

"Our jury laws in selecting alternates for jurors are, in my respectful view, pathetically poor. We can't put additional alternates on in any way in an effective manner.

"If this trial lasts something like two years, the chances of holding a jury together are difficult, if not highly remote."

"If we lose more than three we are out luck and we have to start again," said Ritchie.

It would be "disastrous" if the trial went so long that the jurors' attrition ended up in the trial having to start over, he said.

Pickton has actually not yet formally opted for a jury to hear the case, but Ritchie has said that is the intention.

Kevin Church, a defence lawyer in Kamloops and a criminal justice spokesman for the Canadian Bar Association, said lawyers are obligated to not mislead the court.

"I imagine he's telling (the judge) the truth because that is what Peter Ritchie would do," said Church. "If he said his best estimate is 90 weeks then I guess it's 90 weeks."

Church noted that 26 counts entails "a lot of evidence. When you consider an average murder trial may last a month, multiply that by 26."

Church said he could not think of a jury trial in Canada that lasted two years.

"That's beyond my knowledge and it would certainly be exceptionally difficult. It's an exceptional thing to ask of somebody but (Pickton) has a right to a jury trial."

A phase of the trial began in January that involves defence and Crown lawyers making arguments on what evidence should be admitted. The judge decides what evidence can be put before a jury when one is selected.

Pickton has been in custody since February 2002 and is facing 26 counts of first-degree murder in connection with an investigation over a long list of missing women from Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside.

While the current phase of the trial is under a publication ban, the judge allowed some parts of what the lawyers said in court Wednesday to be exempt from the ban, as long as they didn't touch on evidence.

Outside court, Ritchie said the defence is struggling to try to shorten the length of time the case will take.

"When the Crown chooses to go on so many counts there is a lot of evidence, and it's going to be a jury trial, and it would be extraordinarily difficult for jurors to deal with something over a long period of time."

He said it was "highly unusual" to ask a juror to take a year or two out of his or her life.

"It may be impossible to do that. It may be unfair to do that."

Ritchie told the court that as many as 500 witnesses could be called in order just to make the case that the women named in the indictment are actually missing.

"We are speculating about that because the Crown is the authority that decides how to present a case. We don't know how many witnesses they are going to call. Are they going to be calling a huge number or a very small number?"

Ritchie said everyone - including his client - wants the trial to move forward as soon as possible.

"(But) I have grave concerns whether our sights are properly levelled at starting in September or October given the fact that there is so much more to be done pre-trial."

He told the judge the defence team has had a huge amount of material disclosed to it by the Crown.

But the defence still needs a better idea of what witnesses and exhibits the Crown will present to a jury.

Crown counsel Derrill Prevett said the Crown is in the process of supplying that information to the defence, as well as a trial plan.

Ritchie said that might help reduce the wait.

"I'm very relieved to hear that we are finally going to be getting a trial plan so that we can press our team in the right direction."

 

20060503: Jury trial for accused serial killer Pickton could last two years: defence BC New Westminster Serial Killer News

The lead lawyer for the man accused of being Canada's worst serial killer says a jury trial for Robert Pickton could go on for almost two years and testimony may not begin this fall as planned.

"We have come up with estimates as high as 90 weeks, which is alarming - 90 weeks with adjournments, and that could put us close to a two-year trial," Peter Ritchie told Justice James Williams in B.C. Supreme Court.

Ritchie cautioned the time-frame is the defence's guess based on the Crown going ahead with the 26 murder counts that Pickton is charged with.

"Our best guess is, admittedly highly speculative," Ritchie told Williams.

After listening to Ritchie's submission, the judge said, jokingly: "You may need a younger trial judge."

Ritchie noted a two-year trial length "gives rise to some very serious issues about a jury."

In Canada, defence and Crown lawyers pick 12 jurors and two alternates. But once the trial starts hearing evidence, the two alternates are dismissed. Under the law, a trial must start over if the number of jurors drops below 10.

"Just to make sure we are all clear here," said Ritchie as the accused sat behind him in the prisoner's box.

"Our jury laws in selecting alternates for jurors are, in my respectful view, pathetically poor. We can't put additional alternates on in any way in an effective manner.

"If this trial lasts something like two years, the chances of holding a jury together are difficult, if not highly remote."

"If we lose more than three we are out luck and we have to start again," said Ritchie.

It would be "disastrous" if the trial went so long that the jurors' attrition ended up in the trial having to start over, he said.

Pickton has actually not yet formally opted for a jury to hear the case, but Ritchie has said that is the intention.

Kevin Church, a defence lawyer in Kamloops and a criminal justice spokesman for the Canadian Bar Association, said lawyers are obligated to not mislead the court.

"I imagine he's telling (the judge) the truth because that is what Peter Ritchie would do," said Church. "If he said his best estimate is 90 weeks then I guess it's 90 weeks."

Church noted that 26 counts entails "a lot of evidence. When you consider an average murder trial may last a month, multiply that by 26."

Church said he could not think of a jury trial in Canada that lasted two years.

"That's beyond my knowledge and it would certainly be exceptionally difficult. It's an exceptional thing to ask of somebody but (Pickton) has a right to a jury trial."

A phase of the trial began in January that involves defence and Crown lawyers making arguments on what evidence should be admitted. The judge decides what evidence can be put before a jury when one is selected.

Pickton has been in custody since February 2002 and is facing 26 counts of first-degree murder in connection with an investigation over a long list of missing women from Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside.

While the current phase of the trial is under a publication ban, the judge allowed some parts of what the lawyers said in court Wednesday to be exempt from the ban, as long as they didn't touch on evidence.

Outside court, Ritchie said the defence is struggling to try to shorten the length of time the case will take.

"When the Crown chooses to go on so many counts there is a lot of evidence, and it's going to be a jury trial, and it would be extraordinarily difficult for jurors to deal with something over a long period of time."

He said it was "highly unusual" to ask a juror to take a year or two out of his or her life.

"It may be impossible to do that. It may be unfair to do that."

Ritchie told the court that as many as 500 witnesses could be called in order just to make the case that the women named in the indictment are actually missing.

"We are speculating about that because the Crown is the authority that decides how to present a case. We don't know how many witnesses they are going to call. Are they going to be calling a huge number or a very small number?"

Ritchie said everyone - including his client - wants the trial to move forward as soon as possible.

"(But) I have grave concerns whether our sights are properly levelled at starting in September or October given the fact that there is so much more to be done pre-trial."

He told the judge the defence team has had a huge amount of material disclosed to it by the Crown.

But the defence still needs a better idea of what witnesses and exhibits the Crown will present to a jury.

Crown counsel Derrill Prevett said the Crown is in the process of supplying that information to the defence, as well as a trial plan.

Ritchie said that might help reduce the wait.

"I'm very relieved to hear that we are finally going to be getting a trial plan so that we can press our team in the right direction."

 

20060303: One less charge for accused serial killer Vancouver Serial Killer News
A judge tossed out one of the 27 murder charges against accused serial killer Robert Pickton on Thursday.

The charge had differed from the other murder counts filed against the Port Coquitlam pig farmer because the female victim's name was never determined by police and she was listed only as "Jane Doe" in court documents.

The remaining 26 charges of first degree murder involve named victims who were among nearly 70 sex trade workers and drug addicts who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

Pickton's jury trial is not expected to begin until later this year so there is a publication ban on all evidence in the case, including that involving the murder count that has been dropped.

Pickton has pleaded not guilty to the 26 charges with named victims, but did not enter a plea on the "Jane Doe" charge because his defense attorneys argued that portion of the indictment was legally defective.

 

20060130: Alleged Canadian serial killer pleads not guilty BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
A Vancouver man accused of 27 counts of murder in what could be one of north America's worst serial killing cases pleaded not guilty on Monday ahead of a trial that will start later in the year.

Robert Pickton, a pig farmer and scrap dealer who went by the first name "Willy", pleaded not guilty to 26 charges. He entered no plea on the 27th count -- murder of an unknown woman identified only as "Jane Doe" -- and the court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

The women were among 70 who disappeared in the Vancouver area from the 1990s, most of them sex trade workers from Vancouver's poor drug-infested downtown eastside.

The small courtroom was packed with friends and relatives of the missing women, and friends outside beat on traditional aboriginal drums to remember the dead, most of whom were native Canadians.

Pickton was arrested in February 2002 after police raided his ramshackle farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam, which then became the subject of a more than year-long search involving dirt sifting equipment and forensic archeologists.

Police say they found the DNA of at least 31 of the missing Vancouver women at the farm. Although evidence was still being analyzed, prosecutors in May set the number of first degree murder charges at 27 so the trial could go ahead.

Monday's session before a British Columbia Supreme Court trial judge in New Westminster, British Columbia, was the start of what will likely be several months of hearings on the admissibility of some evidence to be presented in Pickton's trial, which is expected to start in the early fall.

A standard Canadian court publication ban prohibits the media from reporting details of that evidence. The ban is designed to prevent bias among the jurors eventually selected for the case.

Although Pickton, 56, has been in custody since his arrest, the case moved very slowly through the court process because of the time needed by DNA laboratories across Canada to test samples from the farm.

Some of the missing women have not been seen since the 1980s, but most disappeared from the streets of Vancouver from 1992 to just before Pickton was arrested.

Police have denied accusations they ignored warnings that a serial killer was at work on the Pacific Coast city's Downtown Eastside for several years because the women who disappeared without a trace were poor.

 

20050822: B.C. puts $10 million mortgage on accused killer's farm BC Serial Killer News

The Canadian Press is reporting that the B.C. government has put a mortgage worth $10 million on accused serial killer Robert Pickton's notorious pig farm to cover his publicly funded defence.

The government's mortgage was registered on Feb. 28, 2003, a year after police raided the farm and arrested Pickton.

Pickton is charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder related to women who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in the 1990s. He has a seven-member legal team but has not yet entered a plea.

No one at the Attorney General's Ministry will say if the $10 million represents the estimated cost of Pickton's legal team.

The pig farm was valued at $5.9 million last fall by B.C. Assessment which tracks property values for tax purposes.

Pickton's lead defence lawyer, Peter Ritchie also would not discuss his funding arrangements with the government nor would he speculate on the defence's ultimate cost.

Pickton's trial won't start until sometime next year.

Pickton never qualified for legal aid because of his property holdings and business interests. The B.C. Legal Services Society normally pays defence lawyers $80 an hour on lengthy cases and $125 an hour for exceptional ones.

Ritchie launched what's known as a Robotham application in 2002, asking a judge to order Pickton to receive a publicly funded defence. The hearing ended in October 2002 with the B.C. Supreme Court ordering the Attorney General's Ministry to negotiate a funding arrangement directly with Ritchie.

 

20050608: Tighter ban rejected in Pickton case BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
 

A defence bid to effectively seal the courtroom for hearings in accused serial-killer Robert Pickton's murder case was rejected Wednesday by the trial judge.

Justice Jim Williams of the B.C. Supreme Court said a section of the Criminal Code that spells out the scope of publication bans in pre-trial hearings is sufficient even to deal with defence fears about Internet publication of what's heard in court on this high-profile case.

Williams said the law applies to posting of information on the Internet but in case it didn't he added a common-law ban on Internet publication to reinforce the provision.

Pickton's defence team worried widespread media interest in the sensational case, especially from foreign news organizations, would prompt widespread dissemination of evidence discussed in pre-trial hearings that run through the rest of this year at least.

They argued a sweeping ban that included prohibiting anyone discussing what they heard in court was necessary to ensure an untainted pool of jurors, should Pickton elect a jury trial.

But Williams, an experienced criminal lawyer before being appointed to the bench three years ago, accepted arguments from lawyers representing major Canadian news outlets that details of Pickton's 2003 preliminary hearing have been kept under wraps except for one hiccup early in those proceedings.

"The experience since the preliminary hearing would appear to suggest that notwithstanding the notoriety of this case, there is reason to be confident that the statutory publication restrictions will be observed," Williams writes in his 19-page ruling.

Nevertheless, Williams added a specific rider to the statutory ban that automatically applies to pre-trial hearings, barring publication or broadcast of any information that would identify Internet sites or other sources of prohibited information, including web addresses.

The defence noted last week that some Canadian news outlets pointed people to foreign websites where they could find banned information in past high-profile court cases.

Williams left open the possibility of imposing additional restrictions - including on access to the courtroom - if people don't comply with the ban.

"This court will be vigilant in protecting Mr. Pickton's rights to a fair trial and will treat failure to comply with publication restrictions seriously," Williams told the court.

He also set out guidelines if lawyers seek future bans, including issuing two days' notice to the media if possible and e-mailing the information to them. Where notice isn't possible, Williams said any bans he issues would be temporary unless confirmed after a full hearing.

Pickton, 55, is accused of killing more than two dozen women, mostly drug-addicted prostitutes, from Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside. More than 60 have disappeared from the neighbourhood since the early 1980s.

Lawyers for various news organizations argued the ban that chief defence lawyer Peter Ritchie was seeking was an unprecedented infringement of Charter guarantees to free expression, as well as being unworkable.

Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie agreed some form of publication ban is warranted but that Ritchie's request for a gag order was tantamount to closing the courtroom.

Williams's ruling sets an interesting precedent, said Heather MacConachie, lawyer for CityTV and CBC.

"What the judge is saying is you don't need special rules for high-publicity murder cases," she said outside the court. "The Criminal Code rules that apply are there to protect the accused's (right to) a fair trial and they don't need any further protection."

Media lawyers also pointed to the way Williams dealt with the potential threat of Internet publication, including a ban on reporting web addresses.

"That's to ensure that even if there is leaks of information out there that they stay pretty minimal, and we don't get a situation like what happened with the Gomery (sponsorship scandal) inquiry, where even though there was a publication ban the media mentioned an American site where people could find out what the testimony was about," said MacConachie.

Michael Skene, acting for CTV and the Globe and Mail, said this is the first instance he's seen of an order regarding directions to Internet sites.

"The point to these bans is that a lot of the information over the next few months may never get in front of the jury," he explained. "All of these types of bans are meant to protect a potential jury pool from hearing information they're not supposed to consider."

 

20050608: Tighter ban rejected in Pickton case BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
 

A defence bid to effectively seal the courtroom for hearings in accused serial-killer Robert Pickton's murder case was rejected Wednesday by the trial judge.

Justice Jim Williams of the B.C. Supreme Court said a section of the Criminal Code that spells out the scope of publication bans in pre-trial hearings is sufficient even to deal with defence fears about Internet publication of what's heard in court on this high-profile case.

Williams said the law applies to posting of information on the Internet but in case it didn't he added a common-law ban on Internet publication to reinforce the provision.

Pickton's defence team worried widespread media interest in the sensational case, especially from foreign news organizations, would prompt widespread dissemination of evidence discussed in pre-trial hearings that run through the rest of this year at least.

They argued a sweeping ban that included prohibiting anyone discussing what they heard in court was necessary to ensure an untainted pool of jurors, should Pickton elect a jury trial.

But Williams, an experienced criminal lawyer before being appointed to the bench three years ago, accepted arguments from lawyers representing major Canadian news outlets that details of Pickton's 2003 preliminary hearing have been kept under wraps except for one hiccup early in those proceedings.

"The experience since the preliminary hearing would appear to suggest that notwithstanding the notoriety of this case, there is reason to be confident that the statutory publication restrictions will be observed," Williams writes in his 19-page ruling.

Nevertheless, Williams added a specific rider to the statutory ban that automatically applies to pre-trial hearings, barring publication or broadcast of any information that would identify Internet sites or other sources of prohibited information, including web addresses.

The defence noted last week that some Canadian news outlets pointed people to foreign websites where they could find banned information in past high-profile court cases.

Williams left open the possibility of imposing additional restrictions - including on access to the courtroom - if people don't comply with the ban.

"This court will be vigilant in protecting Mr. Pickton's rights to a fair trial and will treat failure to comply with publication restrictions seriously," Williams told the court.

He also set out guidelines if lawyers seek future bans, including issuing two days' notice to the media if possible and e-mailing the information to them. Where notice isn't possible, Williams said any bans he issues would be temporary unless confirmed after a full hearing.

Pickton, 55, is accused of killing more than two dozen women, mostly drug-addicted prostitutes, from Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside. More than 60 have disappeared from the neighbourhood since the early 1980s.

Lawyers for various news organizations argued the ban that chief defence lawyer Peter Ritchie was seeking was an unprecedented infringement of Charter guarantees to free expression, as well as being unworkable.

Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie agreed some form of publication ban is warranted but that Ritchie's request for a gag order was tantamount to closing the courtroom.

Williams's ruling sets an interesting precedent, said Heather MacConachie, lawyer for CityTV and CBC.

"What the judge is saying is you don't need special rules for high-publicity murder cases," she said outside the court. "The Criminal Code rules that apply are there to protect the accused's (right to) a fair trial and they don't need any further protection."

Media lawyers also pointed to the way Williams dealt with the potential threat of Internet publication, including a ban on reporting web addresses.

"That's to ensure that even if there is leaks of information out there that they stay pretty minimal, and we don't get a situation like what happened with the Gomery (sponsorship scandal) inquiry, where even though there was a publication ban the media mentioned an American site where people could find out what the testimony was about," said MacConachie.

Michael Skene, acting for CTV and the Globe and Mail, said this is the first instance he's seen of an order regarding directions to Internet sites.

"The point to these bans is that a lot of the information over the next few months may never get in front of the jury," he explained. "All of these types of bans are meant to protect a potential jury pool from hearing information they're not supposed to consider."

 

20050525: Canada serial killer case adds 12 murder counts BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
Accused Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton will be tried for killing 27 women, prosecutors said on Wednesday, as they added 12 counts to the 15 charges of first-degree murder he already faced.

All of the murder charges in Canada's biggest serial killer investigation relate to some of the nearly 70 women who went missing in the gritty Downtown Eastside area of the West Coast Canadian city of Vancouver from the mid 1980s until late 2001.

The women were drug addicts and sex trade workers.

Pickton, 55, appeared via a video-link in a New Westminster, British Columbia, court on Wednesday to hear the new charges. He showed no emotion. He has been in custody since his arrest in February 2002 and is expected to go to trial in late 2005 or early 2006.

The murder charges are based in part on evidence collected during an 18-month search of his pig farm in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam, where police say the DNA of at least 31 of the missing women has been discovered.

Media flocked to the courtroom on Wednesday but few relatives of the missing women were present.

One, Lorraine Crey, learned that her older sister Dawn, whose DNA was found at Pickton's farm, was not among the new charges. Prosecutors told her that the DNA did not represent enough evidence to file charges.

"We're back to square one," Crey said.

A spokesman for the prosecution would not say if additional charges would be brought against Pickton.

The defense is requesting a broad publication ban on media coverage of the case.

 

20041230: Family of missing woman wants serial killer doll removed from Vancouver store Vancouver Serial Killer News
The store that apologized for stocking a doll portraying members of a Nazi SS combat division originally created to guard concentration camps is again under fire, this time for a doll depicting a serial killer...The Vancouver Virgin Megastore is selling a figure depicting Jack the Ripper, the mysterious Victorian-era killer believed to have murdered about a dozen prostitutes. The doll's bloodied hands hold a knife and a doctor's bag. Blood also spatters the caped, black-hatted doll's face...The toy comes with several bloody knives and a saw, as well as a sryinge...And, says the sister of one of Vancouver's missing women, it's too close to home...Maggie DeVries wants Virgin to remove the doll...In the past two decades, 69 women have vanished from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a squalid 15-square-block area populated with drug addicts and sex-trade workers...The disappearances led to the formation of a joint RCMP-Vancouver Police Department task force which continues to investigate missing women...Pig farmer Robert William Pickton, 55, is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder in the Vancouver missing women's case...The Crown has said it expects to add another seven counts before he goes on trial next year...Police said in October their probe of the farm owned by Pickton and his siblings turned up 31 separate DNA samples...While Pickton has not been charged with the death of Sarah DeVries, her DNA was found at his Port Coquitlam farm...She left behind two young children. Sarah's sister Maggie DeVries says the family has had to explain to the children what happened to their mother..."For them, imagine them knowing their that mother was murdered, seeing a murderer of women like their mother turned into a doll would be very hurtful," she said..."In Vancouver in particular, they're not even that far from where the women disappeared from. We have a glimmer of how these women may have died. A doll with a bloodied hand, a bloody knife is way too close to home."..Maggie DeVries says such a doll would encourage people to make light of the killings of sex-trade workers..."We as a society use the murder of prostitutes as a source of entertainment all the time," she said. "I can't imagine who would buy such a doll."..The doll is a product of the New York-based Mezco Toys...Staff at the Vancouver store are not permitted to comment on product lines, an assistant manager said...Representatives at the company's head office were not available for comment...The doll is also available for sale online and is the subject of chat room discussions...In October, Virgin apologized for carrying dolls depicting members of the Totenkopf Division...While members of the division fought in Normandy in 1944, it was originally formed at Dachau, Germany, site of the first concentration camp outside Munich. The Totenkopf continued to guard camps until the end of the Second World War..."While never intending to cause offence, the company wishes to apologize for any unintentional harm that this product item may have caused," the company said at the time...The sale of the dolls angered Holocaust survivors and the Canadian Jewish Congress, who called for the withdrawal of the figures..
 

20041221: Canada delays largest serial killer trial BC New Westminister Serial Killer News
The trial of a British Columbia pig farmer charged with killing at least 15 women has been delayed as even more DNA samples show evidence of more victims. .. In New Westminster, British Columbia, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm said pre-trial hearings for Robert Pickton might not begin until 2006, as prosecutors expect to add at least seven more homicide counts...Crown attorney Mike Petrie told the court some of the tens of thousands of pieces of evidence gathered from Pickton's pig farm in suburban Port Coquitlam yielded DNA of nine more women, although no charges have been laid for them...The 55-year-old has been in custody since his arrest in February 2002. He is under scrutiny in the disappearances of 69 women, predominantly drug addicts and prostitutes missing from Vancouver's downtown eastside as far back as the late 1970s, the Toronto Star reported...The case is considered the largest serial killing investigation in Canadian history..
 

20041008: Likely serial killer linked to eight more missing women Vancouver Serial Killer News
Police on Wednesday linked eight more missing women to an area pig farmer accused of being Canada's worst serial killer...Authorities say Robert Pickton is likely to go on trial next year on charges of first degree murder in the deaths of 15 of 69 prostitutes and drug addicts who have mysteriously vanished from this west coast city over the past quarter century. Police have linked Pickton to nearly half the missing women, and are appealing for help from the public in tracing the rest of the women on the list..."We cannot solve these cases alone," said police spokeswoman Sergeant Sheila Sullivan, who said a new poster with all the women's names and photos will be distributed. Prosecutors have said they will also lay charges against Pickton in the deaths of seven other of the woman, and police said they've identified the DNA of nine other women on Pickton's pig farm, for a total of 31...Three of the women discovered on the farm remain unidentified, and on Wednesday police repeated earlier pleas for families to report missing persons...Pickton, a middle-aged, long-haired farmer was arrested in 2002 after police raided his property in Port Coquitlam, 35km east of Vancouver. He is to appear in court in December for a trial date to be set. All women on the list vanished over a 25-year period from Vancouver's downtown Eastside. .This story has been viewed 648 times. .
 

20040628: Accused serial killer may wait year for trial Vancouver Serial Killer News
The man accused of being Canada's worst serial killer probably won't face a trial until the spring of 2005 - three years after he was first charged...Robert PICKTON made a routine court appearance via video-link from the B.C. facility where he is being held...No further charges were laid, although seven more are expected, meaning PICKTON will face at least 22 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of women who disappeared from Vancouver's gritty Downtown Eastside neighbourhood...Lawyers stated today that they are still analysing exhibits taken from the pig farm Pickton co-owns. That may take until the fall...Defence lawyers said they are ready to proceed: "We wish to proceed. Mr. PICKTON wants to get his trial on as soon as possible, even if there is a lot of work to be done yet in preparing the case”...PICKTON´s next court appearance is set for Dec. 20. A trial date may be set at that time...Police swooped down on PICKTON's pig farm in February 2002..More than 60 women from the Downtown Eastside have disappeared since the 1980s. Most were sex-trade workers and drug addicts.
 

20021206: Public Hearing ordered BC Serial Killer News
The judge in the case of pig farmer Robert William PICKTON, allegedly the VANCOUVER Serial Killer, decided for a public hearing today on pressure of victim´s families and the public. PICKTON is suspected of having killed up to 50 women.
 

20021127: Suspected Number of Victims raised to 67 BC Serial Killer News
Not unusual whenever prostitutes and drug-addicts are victims of homicide, Vancouver police did not lay much effort in the examination of several missing persons.
Since end of the 90ies (!!!) there have been numerous hints and complaints from public and victims families, that police seems not too busy in quest of a possible serial killer.
Maybe that´s why police is now running a very dense information-strategy to counterdict those complaints, maybe it is ambition...
In a press-conference today there were 4 more possible victims named, whose disappearance would fit into PICKTON´s pattern, after searching hundreds of missing person files. Under pressure of some of the victims families disctrict attorney decides for a public hearing in the case of pigfarmer Robert William PICKTON, who is suspected in the killings of more than 50 women.
 

20060830: Serial Killer Nurse Donates Kidney To Ex-Girlfriend's Brother NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A serial killer nurse who admitted killing 29 patients donates one of his kidneys to the brother of an ex-girlfriend. Charles Cullen had threatened to skip his sentencing hearing if he was not permitted to be the donor. In February, a judge approved Cullen's removal from prison for the operation. Cullen's public defender, Johnnie Mask, says the kidney went to Ernie Peckham, 37, of Rocky Point, New York. Mask tells The Associated Press, "They have not had a chance to speak" since the operations on Aug. 20. One day after surgery, Cullen went back to New Jersey State Prison. Peckham did not return to his Long Island home for a few days. The New York Daily News reports Peckham is married with four children. He is a metalworker and Cub Scout leader who was an Army reservist. Peckham told The Village Beacon Record that his kidneys began failing after a cut on his finger became a strep infection. Cullen confessed to using drug overdoses to kill 29 patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He was sentenced to 18 life terms in prison.
 

20060822: Serial Killer Back in Prison after Surgery PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen is back in prison tonight, recovering from his recent kidney donation. Cullen had the surgery on Saturday. The kidney went to a relative of one of Cullen's friends. Last year, Cullen said he would skip his sentencing unless he was allowed to donate. A judge agreed to allow the transplant and Cullen appeared before the victims' families. He's serving 18 consecutive life sentences in solitary confinement at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
 

20060321: Serial Killer Nurse May Donate A Kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News
A judge clears the way for New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney. If Charles Cullen and his doctors meet certain conditions, he may undergo an operation to remove one of his kidneys. The Associated Press reports the organ would then go to the relative of a friend. Cullen admitted to killing 29 patients in nursing homes and hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Prosecutors agreed to spare him from the death penalty if he identified patients who had been given lethal drug overdoses. The judge ordered that the operation must be paid for by the recipient's insurance company. The state's medical examiners must also certify the doctors prior to the procedure.
 

20060320: Judge allows serial killer to donate kidney NJ Newark Serial Killer News

A United States judge has agreed to allow New Jersey's worst serial killer to donate a kidney, but the killer and his doctors have to meet conditions.

Judge Paul Armstrong did not say when Charles Cullen might undergo the operation to remove one of his kidneys to be transplanted into the relative of a friend.

Cullen has admitted killing 29 patients with drug overdoses at nursing homes and hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the US health care system. He has been sentenced to 18 life terms.

The judge's order, signed on Thursday, stipulates that all operation costs must be paid by the recipient's insurer.
 
Also, the surgery to remove Cullen's kidney must happen in New Jersey at a hospital certified by the state Department of Corrections, and the doctors who perform the operation must be certified by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

Cullen, 46, had tried for four months to reach an agreement with prosecutors to win permission for the donation.

His lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said the requirements made him "suspicious that someone in the Department of Corrections or at the attorney-general's office does not want this to happen".

New Jersey Attorney General's Office spokesman John Hagerty said the requirements reflect the fact that they are for "a serial killer who is not free to travel willy-nilly".

Cullen claimed to have killed 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, and has said he killed out of mercy. Not all of his victims, however, were old or very sick.

 

20060311: Over Killer's Loud Objections, He Gets 6 More Life Terms PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Charles Cullen, a former nurse who committed one of the worst murder sprees in the United States health care system, was gagged with a cloth and duct tape at a sentencing hearing Friday after he began loudly repeating, "Your honor, you need to step down." Mr. Cullen had maintained almost complete silence every time he appeared in court, steadfastly refusing to explain why he killed at least 29 patients in two states. During an emotional sentencing hearing last week in New Jersey, he sat quietly with his eyes closed as victims' families said he was a monster and called him "garbage." But on Friday, facing another round of sentencing, this time for his murders in Pennsylvania, he infuriated the relatives of some of his victims by repeating his bizarre chant hundreds of times over 30 minutes, during which attempts to muffle him proved unsuccessful. "I feel very cheated," said Walter Henne, a relative who showed up in court to address Mr. Cullen and had to raise his voice to be heard over him. "Our last trump card was taken away from us by the childish behavior of Mr. Cullen." A judge ignored Cullen's outbursts and gave him six more life sentences. Mr. Cullen, who was sentenced last week to 11 consecutive life terms in New Jersey, administered lethal overdoses to seven patients in Pennsylvania, and tried to kill three others. Mr. Cullen had tried to avoid showing up at his sentencing hearings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On Friday, he told President Judge William Platt of Lehigh County that he was upset that the judge had said in a newspaper article that he was inclined to make Mr. Cullen show up at sentencing. Mr. Cullen then began repeating the statement and refused to stop. Sheriff's deputies wrapped a white cloth around Cullen's mouth, but that did little to muffle him. They added two pieces of duct tape and tried repeatedly to tighten the gag, but Mr. Cullen still managed to drown out some of the relatives and friends who were there to tell him the impact the murders had had on their lives. "We think you are a total waste of human flesh," Mr. Henne told Mr. Cullen on behalf of the family of his mother-in-law, Irene Krapf. It was not clear whether Mr. Cullen heard a word he said.
 

20060310: NJ serial killer to be sentenced in Pennsylvania PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A week ago, a former nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life and confronted by his victims' relatives in New Jersey. On Friday, Charles Cullen was set to sentenced in Pennsylvania, where he was expected to again face relatives of patients he killed. Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders in both states. He escaped the death penalty after agreeing to help prosecutors in seven counties identify patients to whom he had given lethal drug overdoses. He will serve his sentence in New Jersey. Cullen administered overdoses to seven patients at nursing homes and hospitals in Lehigh and Northampton counties, and tried to kill three others in one of the worst murder sprees ever discovered in the U.S. health care system. Cullen was to be sentenced Friday in Northampton County for the 1998 murder of 78-year-old Ottomar Schramm at Easton Hospital. Although he does not have to be present at that hearing, he has been ordered to attend his sentencing a few hours later in Allentown in Lehigh County, where he was expected to again come face-to-face with his victims' families. Last week, relatives of the 22 New Jersey victims confronted Cullen after he received 11 consecutive life terms, calling him a "monster" and "vermin." Cullen said nothing, his eyes closed. Cullen, who claims to have slain 40 patients over a 16-year nursing career, has said he killed out of mercy. Many of his victims were old and very sick. But the judge who sentenced Cullen in New Jersey told him he "betrayed the ancient foundations of the healing professions." Cullen was arrested in December 2003 after Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J., notified prosecutors about questionable lab results involving patients under his care. The case prompted lawmakers in both states to pass legislation protecting hospitals and nursing homes from legal action when reporting disciplinary actions taken against employees.
 

20060304: How can a serial killer escape the death penalty? NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

A MALE nurse who admits killing up to forty patients with lethal injections has been spared a similar fate through an extraordinary plea bargain in which he pledged to help to identify his victims.

Charles Cullen, 46, a loner with a history of depression and suicide attempts, will escape the death penalty in return for pleading guilty to at least twenty-nine murders and co-operating with investigators looking into other suspicious deaths.

Cullen says that he poisoned up to forty people with hard to-detect medications — usually the heart drug digoxin — during a 16-year career working night shifts at ten nursing homes and hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He has told authorities, however, that he cannot remember the names of four of his victims and that he randomly injected insulin into intravenous medical bags without knowing which patient they were for.

Prosecutors in all seven counties where he worked have agreed to spare his life in return for his help in identifying all those he killed.

As the families of victims harangued him as a “monster”, “one pathetic little man”, and “Satan’s son”, Cullen was sentenced on Thursday to 11 consecutive life terms for 22 murders and 3 attempted murders in Somerset County, New Jersey. That meant that it would be 397 years before he became eligible for parole.

He is due to be sentenced next Friday for seven more murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania.

Investigations remain open in two other New Jersey counties, complicated by the destruction of medical records and the uncertainty of Cullen’s memory.

Cullen is one of the worst serial killers discovered inside America’s health-care system, but he is not alone. Since 1975 there have been about twenty cases of medical personnel involved in the deaths of patients, including a notorious 1987 case in which Donald Harvey, a nurse, was sentenced to life in prison for killing at least thirty-four patients in Ohio and Kentucky.

Cullen was fired from five nursing jobs and resigned from two others amid questions about his conduct but he always found another job, partly because hospitals kept quiet to avoid being sued.

He went on a murder spree in December 2003, killing 13 patients in less than a year at the Somerset Medical Centre in New Jersey. He was caught when hospital officials discovered unusually high levels of digoxin in the victims.

He told police after his arrest that he had targeted “very sick” patients for what he described as mercy killings.

The facts contradicted his claim. His youngest victim was a 21-year-old student named Michael Strenko, who had been admitted to hospital for a non-fatal blood disorder that required doctors to remove his spleen.

Cullen also killed a 22-year-old car crash victim, Matthew Mattern, who was in hospital with severe burns.

 

20060303: Serial killer nurse gets 11 life terms for killing patients NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
 

A nurse who killed at least 29 patients was sent to prison for the rest of his life Thursday after his victims' loved ones angrily branded him ''vermin,'' ''garbage'' and a ''monster'' who ruined lives and shattered their faith in the medical profession.

Charles Cullen escaped the death penalty after making a deal with prosecutors to tell them which patients he killed with hard-to-detect drug injections.

Cullen, 46, pleaded guilty to murdering 22 people in New Jersey and trying to kill three others. He will be sentenced later for seven murders and three attempted murders in Pennsylvania. He has claimed to have killed up to 40 people during a career that spanned 16 years and 10 nursing homes and hospitals.

He received 11 consecutive life terms at a tense hearing in which he came face-to-face with his victims' families for the first time. Wearing a bulletproof vest under his sweater, Cullen sat quietly as relatives wept and yelled at him from a lectern about 15 feet away. Some said they wished Cullen could die as his victims did, by lethal injection.

''I want you to die tomorrow so that you can meet God tomorrow because guess what? There ain't no door out of hell, baby,'' said Debra Yetter Medina, the granddaughter of victim Mary Natoli.

 

20060302: Killer nurse gets 11 life sentences NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
On the day New Jersey's most prolific serial killer received 11 consecutive life sentences, family members of his victims gave the former nurse a verbal lashing in court.

Some had waited years, and defendant Charles Cullen had filed court papers trying to avoid the confrontation.

One by one, for nearly four hours, two dozen relatives of the dead told a New Jersey judge what Cullen had taken from them.

Some called Cullen names -- "Satan's son" or "monster" -- and told him to "burn in hell." Others simply remembered their lost loved ones.

Judge Paul W. Armstrong then handed down 11 consecutive life sentences. Parole is out of the question, since Cullen, 46, will not be eligible until he has served 397 years.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to committing 22 murders in New Jersey and seven in Pennsylvania. He also admitted attempting to murder six people.

Deaths not mercy killings

Cullen administered lethal doses of medication to patients under his care in nursing homes and medical facilities. He claimed at one point that he was an angel of mercy trying to end his patients' suffering.

But the judge rejected that notion. He said the court "would not countenance the characterization of these crimes as acts of human compassion."

Cullen said nothing during the hearing, sitting beside his attorney with his hands in his lap and his eyes lowered. His lack of visible emotion seemed to enrage some relatives of his victims.

They had plenty to say.

Dolores Stasienko called Cullen a monster for killing her father, Jack Toto, whom she described as a hard-working farmer, mechanic and war veteran.

"Burn in hell, Mr. Cullen, for all eternity," she said.

"Am I boring you?" asked Deborah Yetter-Medina, whose grandmother was killed. "Look at me," she demanded.

"Yes, I was the woman who coined the phrase 'Satan's son,'" she said. "You are Satan's son." Later, she told Cullen: "There ain't no doors out of hell, babe."

Richard Stoecker, whose mother, Eleanor, also was a victim, told Cullen: "Maybe you thought you could play God that day by injecting her, but she planned on living, she was a fighter."

As many as 40 victims

As part of his plea agreement, Cullen has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he killed up to 40 patients during the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Last month, when a deal to allow Cullen to donate a kidney to a friend fell through, he filed court papers seeking to waive his appearance at sentencing. (Full story)

The move outraged victim family members, some of whom have said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen. "Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done."

The judge ruled Cullen had to be present for victim impact statments and sentencing. Cullen will be allowed to donate his kidney now that he has been sentenced.

 

20060224: Serial killer must face victims' kin NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

Judge rules that killer nurse can't skip sentencing hearing

Serial killer Charles Cullen must listen to statements by relatives of his victims when he is sentenced for 22 murders, a New Jersey judge ruled Friday.

Cullen, a former nurse, had asked the court to waive his appearance at the sentencing March 2.

The move outraged victims' family members, some of whom said addressing Cullen is an important part of their grieving process.

"He has to hear that we're human beings and that our father, son, mother, whoever, were human beings," said John Shanagher, whose father, Jack, was killed by Cullen.

"Hopefully it will give us some sense of justice that it's, after all this time, finally done," he added.

Superior Court Judge Paul W. Armstrong also ruled Friday that Cullen will be allowed to donate a kidney to a friend after he is sentenced.

Where the organ will be harvested remains an issue. Cullen wants to have the operation performed in New York. New Jersey officials say it must be done in that state.

Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 hospital patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and attempting to murder six others, with drug injections.

As part of his plea agreement, he has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. He originally told authorities he had killed up to 40 patients in the course of his 16-year nursing career.

Armstrong ruled Friday that Cullen "possesses no fundamental right" by law to be absent from his sentencing, when the court will hear statements by the victims' families.

Cullen had withdrawn his request, but the judge went ahead with a ruling to prevent Cullen from changing his mind later.

 

20060217: Again, a Serial Killer Plans to Skip His Own Sentencing NJ PA Serial Killer News

A carefully constructed deal between the authorities and the convicted serial killer Charles Cullen to allow him to donate a kidney to a friend in exchange for showing up at his own sentencing has fallen apart, his lawyer said yesterday.

The authorities had hoped this month to sentence Mr. Cullen, a former nurse who has confessed to murdering up to 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Many relatives of his victims have been waiting for the day they can face him in court.

But that day, once again, seems far off. At a meeting yesterday, New Jersey authorities and Mr. Cullen's lawyer could not agree on the specifics of the kidney donation, and Mr. Cullen will now fight to skip his sentencing, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

"There is no deal now," Mr. Mask said. "We're nowhere."

Under New Jersey legal procedures, defendants can apply to skip their sentencing. Mr. Cullen initially indicated he would do this, provoking the ire of prosecutors and relatives of his victims.

But in December, Peter C. Harvey, then New Jersey's attorney general, announced that he had worked out a plan in which Mr. Cullen could donate his kidney if he agreed to come to his sentencing first. A memorandum of understanding was signed, and a transplant team at Stony Brook University Hospital on Long Island, where Mr. Cullen's friend is a patient, agreed to do the surgery.

But Mr. Harvey left office in January, after New Jersey's new governor, Jon S. Corzine was sworn in. Officials at the attorney general's office and in the Corrections Department have now decided that Mr. Cullen cannot leave the state for the kidney operation because New Jersey officials do not have the authority to provide security in New York.

Mr. Mask said that prosecutors had yet to come up with a viable plan for the operation to be done in New Jersey. Until they do, Mr. Cullen will do everything in his power, including filing numerous appeals, to avoid his sentencing, he said.

"We're not going to give up what little leverage we have until we know this kidney operation is going to happen," Mr. Mask said. State officials, he said, "have been throwing up roadblocks ever since Harvey left."

John Hagerty, a spokesman at the attorney general's office, said that Mr. Cullen's sentencing has been scheduled for March 2 but that there are issues that could delay that. A presentencing hearing has been set for next week.

Mr. Hagerty said state officials "continue to work with local prosecutors so the sentencing can proceed."

 

20060113: Serial Killer Using Loophole That Delays His Sentencing NJ Newark Serial Killer News

First, he wrangled a way to avoid the death penalty, even though he confessed to murdering up to 40 people. Then, he tried to dictate the terms of his final court appearance. Now, he is refusing to cooperate.

Apparently, Charles Cullen, a New Jersey nurse who confessed to sneaking into hospital rooms late at night and injecting patient after patient with deadly amounts of drugs, is trying to exert his last bits of leverage from a solo cell in the Somerset County jail before he is sent away for life.

His maneuvering is infuriating the families of his victims and delaying their long-awaited rendezvous in court. It is also making a strange case even stranger, partly because of what was, until now, a little-known legal wrinkle in New Jersey that allows defendants to skip their sentencing.

"Can't we just get this over with?" said Lucille Gall, whose brother Mr. Cullen has admitted killing. "This is a sick little game he's playing."

Most of the prosecutors in the case seem unfazed or, at least, they talk that way.

"We don't need him anymore," said Wayne J. Forrest, prosecutor for Somerset County, N.J., where Mr. Cullen confessed to 13 murders. "We've completed our investigation. We got our guilty pleas. We're done."

John Morganelli, district attorney for Northampton County, Pa., where Mr. Cullen admitted killing one patient, said, "I could go to court right now and get a conviction, with or without his cooperation."

But in Essex County, it is a different story. Mr. Cullen told investigators he thinks he killed five patients at a hospital near Newark. The problem is, he does not remember whom. Until recently, he had been meeting regularly with Essex investigators, studying old charts, peering into old photos, trying to jog his memory.

So far, Mr. Cullen, 45, has pleaded guilty to murdering 29 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical facilities. Most of his victims were old and sick.

After he was arrested in 2003, he agreed to help investigators identify all of his victims - he estimated there were up to 40 - in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

But the deal began to fray last month, when Mr. Cullen announced he wanted to donate a kidney to an ailing friend. The authorities said he could do it only after his sentencing, which Mr. Cullen threatened to miss.

Many lawyers said that this was the first time they had ever heard of a serial killer trying to skip his sentencing. Earlier this month, prosecutors indefinitely delayed Mr. Cullen's sentencing, saying they needed more time to investigate the Essex cases and one mysterious death in Morris County. A few days later, Mr. Cullen struck back, saying through his public defender that he was finished cooperating.

"This isn't about a power trip, this is about a kidney," said his lawyer, Johnnie Mask. "Charlie's worried that if the sentencing keeps getting pushed back, it may be too late. He really cares about saving this life, ironic as that may seem."

On Friday, Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, said a new possibility had emerged: Mr. Cullen could be sentenced for the crimes to which he had already confessed, he could donate his kidney and then he could continue cooperating with the authorities on any open cases. "Our goal is to bring finality," Mr. Harvey said.

He added that prosecutors were mulling the options. If talks break down, there is an outside chance the plea agreement could be nullified and Mr. Cullen tried in court, exposing him to the death penalty.

What is giving Mr. Cullen his 11th-hour leverage is New Jersey's criminal procedure rule 3:21-4 (b), which says, "Sentence shall not be imposed unless the defendant is present or has filed a written waiver of the right to be present."

Mr. Mask and other defense lawyers say the law is on their side and that precedent upholds a defendant's right to opt out of sentencing.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say judges have the ultimate discretion and can order sheriff's deputies to drag Mr. Cullen to court. Both sides vow to press their case aggressively, which only raises the specter of a long appeals process.

And now there's another potential complication. Christopher Bateman, a Republican assemblyman from Somerville, is pushing a bill that would force defendants to come to their sentencing. "It's only right that the families get to inflict a little pain, so to speak," he said.

But all the back and forth seems to be only compounding the pain.

"We want to know how Cullen, a criminal, a murderer, thinks he has so much power to decide what he can do and cannot do?" Tom and Mary Strenko wrote in an e-mail interview. "He is a killer and he has no right to decide anything!"

The Strenkos' 21-year-old son, Michael, was hospitalized in 2003 with a serious but curable blood disease. Mr. Cullen has confessed to killing him. "We are not giving up on this! No way!" the Strenkos continued. "It is as important to us as breathing air to have Charles Cullen once again look into our loathing eyes to personally see and hear the pain and suffering he has caused us for the rest of our lives!"

 

20060110: Serial Killer, Angry at Sentencing Delay, Stops Cooperating NJ Newark Serial Killer News

The New Jersey nurse who confessed to killing 29 people and has spent nearly two years cooperating with investigators decided abruptly on Tuesday that he would no longer help them.

The nurse, Charles Cullen, 45, was so upset about his sentencing being canceled last week that he is pulling out of a carefully constructed plea deal in which he had agreed to help identify his victims in exchange for not facing the death penalty, his lawyer, Johnnie Mask, said.

The authorities said that his refusal to cooperate could mean that prosecutors will seek the death penalty. It could also mean that many mysterious hospital deaths will not be resolved, leaving family members to forever wonder if their loved ones died naturally or were murdered.

Mr. Cullen has told the authorities he killed up to 40 people, many of them old and ailing patients whom he injected with lethal doses of heart drugs. But he did not remember all their names. So investigators have been struggling to identify them and, until Tuesday, were working closely with Mr. Cullen, sifting through mountains of medical records in the effort to jog his memory to determine exactly whom he killed.

The cooperation may now be coming to an end because of a kidney. In a strange concession to coax Mr. Cullen to come to his own sentencing and face dozens of grieving family members, New Jersey authorities agreed in December to allow him to donate a kidney to an ailing friend, as long as the operation was performed after his sentencing. But last week the authorities delayed the sentencing indefinitely, saying they needed more time to investigate hospital deaths in Morris and Essex Counties that Mr. Cullen may have caused. Mr. Cullen lost his patience, his lawyer said, and decided he would no longer help investigators.

"The deal is off," Mr. Mask said. "He's done. No more cooperation. Period."

"Now it's on the prosecutors' shoulders whether somebody else dies," Mr. Mask added, referring to the man who is waiting for a kidney donation.

Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey's attorney general, called that notion "ridiculous" and said it was not the prosecutors' role to find a new kidney for Mr. Cullen's friend.

"Our job is to protect the victims," Mr. Harvey said.

He also said, "It's strange that all of a sudden this guy has become a humanitarian after killing 22 people in New Jersey."

Paula T. Dow, the prosecutor for Essex County, where Mr. Cullen has admitted to killing several people, said Mr. Cullen's refusal to cooperate was "a clear breach of the plea agreement" and that "it now exposes him" to being brought back to court to face trial and possibly the death penalty.

But the reality of his ever being executed, at least in New Jersey, is slim because the state has not put anyone to death since 1963, and this week the Legislature passed a temporary moratorium on capital punishment. However, Mr. Cullen has admitted to seven murders in Pennsylvania, which does have the death penalty.

The authorities said on Tuesday that they were not sure if Mr. Cullen's action was a ploy to speed up donation of the kidney, or if he truly intended not to cooperate ever again. They added that they were unsure of what they would do next.

The development was the latest twist in a long case that began in 1987 at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Mr. Cullen had a history of mental illness and suicidal behavior and gravitated to the night shift, where he was known among colleagues as solitary and strange, with a cold bedside manner.

In 1993 he was accused of killing a 91-year-old woman with a single injection of digoxin, a powerful heart drug that became his weapon of choice. But somehow he slipped through the cracks of the medical system and went on to work at 10 places in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania before he was arrested in 2003.

In 2004, he struck a deal with the authorities in both states to plead guilty and cooperate in exchange for at least two consecutive life terms, which in New Jersey meant he would not be eligible for parole for 126 years. But in December, as sentencing approached, problems arose, partly because of a little-known procedural rule that allows a defendant to skip his sentencing. Mr. Cullen said he might do that and deny his victims' families a chance to confront him.

Now it is not clear what will happen, with some prosecutors saying Mr. Cullen will be dragged into court, no matter what, while others are not so sure.

 

20060102: Serial killer nurse to face the families of victims NJ Newark Serial Killer News
This could be the week that Marie Romero finally gets to look Charles Cullen straight in the eye and tell him how much pain he caused by killing her sister.

Romero’s sister, Catherine Dext, was killed with an injection by the former nurse and admitted serial killer in June 1996 at Hunterdon Medical Center, where she had been admitted with a ruptured spleen.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Thursday for Cullen, who pleaded guilty to 29 murders and six attempted murders during his 16-year nursing career in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Cullen, 44, has told investigators he might have killed as many as 40 persons, but authorities say that estimate appears to be inflated. Most of the victims were given an overdose of heart medication, usually digoxin.

The former critical-care nurse was able to move from hospital to hospital, despite suspicions he was killing patients, because the institutions did not report their fears to authorities.

The sentencing may stretch out over two days because so many victims’ relatives want to give victim-impact statements.

Cullen had filed papers to waive his right to appear at his sentencing, a move that outraged many of the families.

However, authorities had something Cullen wanted: the right to approve his request to donate a kidney to a relative of Cullen’s ex-girlfriend. With that leverage, authorities persuaded Cullen to agree to appear at the sentencing.

Cullen faces life for each of the New Jersey murders, and won’t be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. In exchange for his plea and agreement to help identify his victims, he escaped New Jersey’s death penalty.

State Attorney General Peter Harvey said he hopes to have all 22 New Jersey cases against Cullen resolved in this week’s sentencing. However, the sentencing could be postponed if no decision is made on whether to also bring charges in several open cases in Essex and Morris counties.

He also escaped death in Pennsylvania, where he still faces sentencing.

A judge there already has ordered him to be present.

 

20051207: Serial killer wants to donate kidney Serial Killer News

Former nurse Charles Cullen, who admitted murdering at least 29 patients in the Lehigh Valley and New Jersey by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, wants to donate his kidney to save a life.

Cullen has asked prosecutors to allow him to travel to New York so doctors can perform the surgery, his attorney said Tuesday.

Johnnie Mask, Cullen's public defender, said prosecutors have agreed to let Cullen undergo the operation in New Jersey, but not travel to New York for it.

''I don't know what the objections are'' to doing the surgery in New York, Mask said. ''Security and expense have always been thrown up as an obstacle.''

Doing the transplant in New Jersey would mean a new transplant team and months of additional tests, he said.

In exchange for permission to give the kidney in New York, Cullen is willing to appear in court when he is sentenced to life in prison, Mask said.

''We're pushing prosecutors to do the operation in New York because the [potential recipient] doesn't have seven months to wait,'' Mask said.

Mask would not identify the intended recipient of the kidney, but The Star-Ledger of Newark, citing unnamed sources, reported in Tuesday's newspapers that it is a relative of Cullen's ex-girlfriend.

The man is in his 30s, a father of four and in poor health, Mask added. He lost kidney function as a result of infection.

Mask said the request for a kidney came about two months ago.

''Initially, some parties opposed the whole thing on the basis that Cullen could die on the table,'' he said.

Cullen, formerly of Bethlehem, had previously filed papers to waive his right to appear in court for the sentencing — an action that had enraged relatives of his victims, who want to confront him one more time.

At one point after Cullen's 2003 arrest, Mask said Cullen wanted to be able to explain his actions to his victims' survivors. But his position changed, Mask said, because the victims' families and victim-rights groups have been hostile.

By appearing at a sentencing, Cullen could answer at least some questions about his crimes.

Mask said he hopes to get an answer in the next few weeks on the transplant and any deal related to Cullen's appearance at the sentencings, which could come in the next few months.

Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne Forrest would not comment Tuesday on the transplant offer or the deal Cullen has proposed.

In a series of court appearances in northern New Jersey and the Lehigh Valley, Cullen has admitted to 29 murders and six attempted murders over the course of his 16-year nursing career. In the latest plea Monday, he admitted to attempting to kill Somerset Medical Center patient Philip Gregor in 2003.

There could be more pleas in the future, though authorities and Mask agree that the investigations are winding down.

Cullen was arrested in December 2003 and charged with the murder of a patient at Somerset Medical Center and the attempted homicide of another. The next year, he pleaded guilty and agreed to help authorities determine exactly whom he killed in exchange for avoiding the death penalty.

 

20051206: Serial killer admits another attempted murder while a nurse NJ Somerville Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen on Mondy pleaded guilty to another attempted murder at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, in what his attorney predicted would probably be his last plea.

In a proceeding lasting less than 10 minutes in state Superior Court, Cullen, 45, a former nurse, admitted before Judge Paul W. Armstrong to attempting to kill critical care patient Philip J. Gregor of South Bound Brook with an overdose of insulin on June 18, 2003.

"Yes, I did," said Cullen when asked by Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Van Hise if he had administered the insulin to the patient without a doctor's orders. "To cause his death" was Cullen's reply when he was asked why.

The answers have become increasingly rote for Cullen, who has pleaded guilty to killing 29 patients at hospitals in five New Jersey and two Pennsylvania counties and attempting to kill five more between 1988 and 2003.

"News of every heinous act he committed to a patient in his care still shocks and saddens us," said hospital spokeswoman Vicky Allen.

Cullen, shackled and clad in mustard-colored prison scrubs, was brought to the courtroom from the Somerset County Jail in Somerville, where he is being held pending his transfer upon sentencing to a maximum security prison.

He has appeared increasingly gaunt since his arrest and arraignment following a series of suspicious deaths at Somerset Medical Center in December 2003.

Compared with Cullen's earlier appearances, the courtroom was almost empty. although Gregor's widow and sister were present, they declined to comment. "When he's sentenced, I'll have a whole lot to say," said Linda Gregor.

Cullen's plea was part of an April 29, 2004, plea agreement in which he was spared the death penalty in exchange for cooperating with investigators in identifying victims. Investigators have since been reviewing files with him.

 

20050710: New Revelations about Convicted Serial Killer Nurse PA Bethlehem Serial Killer News

Nurses who worked with serial killer Charles Cullen at a Pennsylvania hospital apparently warned authorities long before his arrest that he was suspected of killing patients.

That's according to a report today in The Morning Call of Allentown.

But Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin says there just wasn't enough evidence at the time to prosecute Cullen for anything.

And the forensic pathologist who investigated agrees.The pathologist reviewed 26 cases of patients who died while Cullen was working at Saint Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem.

He says the only evidence beyond "vague suspicions" was medical histories of people who died -- but who were already very sick.

After leaving Saint Luke's, Cullen worked at Somerset Medical Center in New Jersey, where he has admitted killing patients.

 

20050520: Cullen tells AG basic security could stop killer nurses NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

The state's worst serial killer is offering authorities tips on how to thwart people who want to follow in his footsteps.

Killer nurse Charles Cullen met for eight hours over two days this week with state Attorney General Peter Harvey, who wanted to find out how to prevent future murders by medical professionals.

Cullen, who says he may have killed as many as 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania by injecting them with lethal doses of drugs, told Harvey that tracking who takes medications from dispensaries could prevent hospital workers from killing patients.

"He believes that the best deterrent is the certainty of detection," Harvey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's newspapers. "Using more video surveillance. Using a swipe card that would allow hospitals to easily track who is withdrawing what medication. These are security controls that can be placed on rooms that house medications."

Thus far, Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering 24 patients and attempting to kill five others

The meetings Wednesday and Thursday were part of what Cullen agreed to last year when he promised to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in return for avoiding the death penalty. Harvey said he plans to speak again with Cullen.

"Once we complete our discussions with him, we are going to compile a series of recommendations that we're going to give to the Board of Medical Examiners and the nursing board with suggestions of how to better protect patients and hospitals," Harvey said. "We're going to ask for their input and action."

Cullen, a former registered nurse, worked at hospitals and nursing facilities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year career.

Harvey said the 45-year-old Cullen showed some remorse _ an emotion that he has not displayed in court.

"He accepts more responsibility than he expresses remorse, but he certainly does both," Harvey said. "I didn't expect it."

 

20050511: Siblings assert serial killer nurse murdered father Serial Killer News

The children of a former Madison resident say they have compelling proof that Charles Cullen, serial killer nurse, killed their father with massive doses of digoxin in January 1997 at Morristown Memorial Hospital.

Lynn Popelka of Netcong and Wayne Sarrow of Readington Township paid to have the remains of their father, Henry Sarrow, disinterred from Saint Vincent’s Cemetery in Madison in February and examined, they said on Wednesday, April 13, at the office of their attorney, Anthony J. Macri of Denville.

Cullen, who is in the Somerset County Jail, denies killing the retired postal worker while he worked at Morristown Memorial from November 1996 to August 1997, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office. He has admitted to killing 24 patients, from 1988 to 2003, but none at Morristown Memorial, authorities said.

So far, Popelka and Sarrow have sued Morristown Memorial, alleging wrongful death and negligence, said attorney Macri, who added that he expects “a long fight.”

Macri said that autopsy reports have been sent to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, an office the siblings claim was unresponsive to past concerns that Cullen was responsible for their father’s death.

Autopsy Results

Henry Sarrow had been admitted to Morristown Memorial on Jan. 9, 1997, because of shortness of breath, and on Jan. 15 he suffered a fatal heart attack, which the family said was not expected. He was 77.

When Mr. Sarrow’s remains were analyzed after the February exhumation, they were found to have digoxin levels of 230 nanograms per kilogram, when a normal level should be 2 nanograms per kilogram, according to Macri’s office.

The levels of digoxin, a heart medication, found in Mr. Sarrow’s body were 125 times the amount that would be found in someone who was being given therapeutic doses, the family and its attorney assert. Such a scenario would fit Cullen’s preferred method of killing – administering overdoses of digoxin.

Mr. Sarrow had worked as a school crossing guard for the Madison Board of Education after his retirement as a postal worker.

Recognized Nurse

After Cullen was arrested in 2003 on charges that he administered a lethal overdose to one patient and attempted to murder another at the Somerset Medical Center, Popelka reportedly recognized Cullen from news photos as a nurse at Morristown Memorial during her father’s hospitalization.

According to attorney Macri, hospital records show Cullen was on duty during overnight hours before two cardiac episodes Mr. Sarrow suffered at Morristown Memorial, the second one fatal.

Cullen is reviewing records from hospitals where he worked, including Morristown Memorial, cooperating with authorities in exchange for a waiver of the death penalty. He is expected to be sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.

 

20041231: Serial killer spends time reading and doing “homework” NJ Somerville Serial Killer News

CULLEN scans medical files to determine if any patients were his victims.
Life in the Somerset County jail is a little like life aboard the USS Woodrow Wilson, the submarine where Charles CULLEN spent months isolated in the deep waters of the Atlantic. In jail, CULLEN has limited space, a bunk to sleep in, and three square meals served with military precision. He has reading material, time on his hands, and no place to go: the cold steel walls of the sub (where CULLEN developed an interest in nursing by helping to inoculate his shipmates) have been replaced by the cold stone walls of justice.
The only times serial killer Charles CULLEN leaves the jail is to travel to various county courts to admit he murdered patients at the 10 medical facilities where he worked in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. CULLEN claims to have killed as many as 40 patients during his 16-year career.
CULLEN has made five such trips so far, pleading guilty to killing 24 patients and attempting to kill five others by injecting them with various medications that he stole from the hospital's drug supplies. There will be others.
In exchange for his cooperation and guilty pleas, authorities waived the death penalty and CULLEN instead must serve at least 127 years in a New Jersey state prison before he is eligible for parole. For now, CULLEN will remain inmate No. 71533 in the Somerset County jail, on the corner of Grove and High streets in Somerville and across from the prosecutor's office where he first admitted his deep, dark secret to detectives after being arrested last December.

 

20041117: Serial killer nurse pleads guilty to murders in Lehigh County PA Allentown Serial Killer News
Serial killer Charles Cullen pleaded guilty today to six murders and three attempted murders in Lehigh County, bringing the former nurse's tally to 23 deaths in two states...Whispering his replies to a judge's routine questions, Cullen, 44, formerly of Bethlehem, offered no details or excuses to the victims' relatives, dozens of whom packed the Allentown courtroom..."He took something away that was so precious to us and we're never going to forgive him," said Connie Keeler, of Bethlehem, whose father Cullen tried to kill..."He shows no emotion to what he did," she said...Keeler's father, Lehigh Valley radio personality Paul Galgon, 72, died of renal failure at St. Luke's Hospital near Bethlehem nine hours after Cullen injected him with the heart stimulant digoxin. Forensic evidence showed that the digoxin contributed to Galgon's death...Family members were not given a chance to address Cullen today, but are expected to have that opportunity at his sentencing, which may be a year away. Judge William Platt denied Cullen's request to be absent during sentencing, which won't occur until after Cullen is sentenced in New Jersey...Cullen has yet to meet with prosecutors in Essex County, where he worked in the burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital for four years; or in Hunterdon County, where he worked at Hunterdon Medical Center for two years. His attorney, Johnny Mask, said it appears that Cullen did not kill anyone in Morris County, where he worked in 1997...Cullen has pleaded guilty to murdering patients in hospitals in Somerset County and Warren County, in New Jersey, and in Northampton County, in Pennsylvania. Usually, he injected overdoses into the intravenous bag of terminally ill, elderly patients. His youngest known victim was Matthew Mattern, a 22-year-old patient the burn unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown...Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison as part of a plea agreement worked out with prosecutors in both states. He told authorities after his arrest in December that he killed as many as 40 patients in 10 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey during his 16-year career as a registered nurse. Prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty as long as Cullen cooperates by identifying his victims.
 

20041106: Pa. judge rejects serial killer's intention to skip sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A former nurse who has admitted killing 17 patients with lethal doses of medication at hospitals in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania will have to attend his sentencing hearing and face the families of his alleged victims in Lehigh County, a judge has ruled. ..Cullen, 44, is scheduled to plead guilty Nov. 17 in Lehigh County Court to six counts of homicide and three counts of attempted homicide. Families won't be able to confront him at the hearing but will be able to do so when Cullen returns to court for his sentencing, likely next year. ..On Tuesday, Judge William H. Platt told Cullen's attorneys that he will not accept Cullen's waiver of his right to appear at the sentencing. ..Cullen's attorney, public defender Johnnie Mask, said he was not happy with Platt's decision but does not intend to fight it. ..After his arrest in December, Cullen told investigators that he killed as many as 40 people during his nursing career. He has pleaded guilty or been charged in a total of 23 murders and has agreed to help investigators identify his victims in a deal to avoid the death penalty. ..The families of several of Cullen's alleged Lehigh County victims were pleased with the judge's decision. .."He needs to be there to face us," said Connie Keeler, the daughter of Paul Galgon, 72, a St. Luke's Hospital patient authorities said Cullen attempted to kill in 2001. "He should have to look into each of our faces and see the pain we are going through." ..When Cullen pleaded guilty to a single killing in Northampton County in September, the daughter of the elderly victim called Cullen a monster, talked about her father's life, and asked Cullen whether he remembered his victims. ..Mask said the hearing was hard on his client, and he would prefer to avoid them. ..In Lehigh County, Cullen is accused of killing five people and attempting to kill two others at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, where he worked from June 2000 to June 2002, and killing one person and attempting to kill another at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township, where he worked from December 1998 to April 2000. ..In neighboring Northampton County, he pleaded guilty to killing one person at Easton Hospital. ..In New Jersey, Cullen has pleaded guilty to killing 16 people and attempting to kill two others at Somerset Medical Center and Warren Hospital. ..Under his plea agreement, Cullen will be sentenced to life in prison in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and will serve the sentence in New Jersey. He will not be eligible for parole for at least 127 years. .
 

20041030: Serial Killer Seeking to Skip Sentencing PA Allentown Serial Killer News
A district attorney said he is trying to determine whether serial killer Charles Cullen can be compelled to appear in court so relatives of the patients he is accused of killing can confront him if he is sentenced to life in prison...Cullen, a former registered nurse, is expected to plead guilty in the next few weeks to charges he killed six patients at two hospitals with lethal doses of medication. Under the proposed plea agreement, Cullen would be spared the death penalty in exchange for helping to identify his victims...Cullen already has pleaded guilty to killing 17 during a 16-year career at hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey...Cullen has said through his attorney he wants to waive his right to be in court at sentencing...But District Attorney James Martin says he will do research to determine whether there is a legal way to force Cullen to appear. "In all my years doing this, I've never seen a defendant not come to his sentencing," he said...Margory Blakemore, daughter of Edward O'Toole, who died at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill in 2002, said she and other relatives should have the right to address Cullen face to face. "He should have to hear about how much pain he's caused," she said.. .
 


Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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