VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
Defence making headway on evidence
Monday, December 23, 2002
PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. -- Lawyers for accused serial killer Robert Pickton told a judge Monday they had made "headway" in terms of being properly prepared for the formal calling of evidence next month at their client's preliminary hearing.
In the next-to-last disclosure hearing on evidence that must be submitted to the defence by the Crown, lawyer Marilyn Sandford outlined areas where the Crown has provided materials involved in the police investigation to allow the defence to properly prepare for Pickton's defence.
"There has been headway in a number of areas," Sandford told provincial court Judge David Stone. "We are now facing a much more considerable volume of disclosure than two weeks ago."
Pickton, a Port Coquitlam pig farmer, is charged with killing 15 women who are among 61 identified as missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
The judge adjourned the hearing until Jan. 9 to discuss further any defence concerns regarding evidence the Crown and police are obligated to disclose to the defence for the preliminary hearing.
Evidence is expected to begin being disclosed Jan. 13, but a publication ban will be in effect. The hearing, which is being held to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial, could last several months.
Meantime, Sandford also raised the issue of taxpayers' funding for Pickton's defence, suggesting that a final agreement on how much his defence team is to be paid has still not been reached with the Attorney General's Ministry.
"We are reaching a critical time and this may affect our ability to continue as counsel," Sandford said.
Negotiations between the defence team and the ministry are "ongoing," she said, and were to continue next week.
But due to the holiday season, the next face-to-face meeting with ministry officials can't take place until Jan. 7 and the defence "does not have a final funding agreement for the preliminary hearing," she said.
The ministry and defence have only an interim agreement on funding for the 60-day period that began Nov. 15 and don't have a final agreement for that period either, said Sandford.
The preliminary hearing had been set to begin in November but was delayed after another disagreement over funding for Pickton's defence.
His main lawyer, Peter Ritchie, resigned in November in a funding dispute but returned to the case when a tentative agreement was reached. The dispute resulted in the start of the preliminary hearing being delayed for several weeks.
© Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press
Updated: August 21, 2016