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Pickton murder trial could start next year
Last Updated: Mar 31 2005 06:39 PM PST

VANCOUVER - It could be January 2006 before the man accused of being Canada's worst serial killer goes on trial, facing 15 counts of first-degree murder in connection with Vancouver's missing women investigation.

Robert William Pickton

Robert William Pickton made a brief appearance via video link in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Thursday.

Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm told the court that pre-trial arguments could begin this fall, with the actual trial starting in the new year. But he cautions that that's just a rough estimate.

One of the issues that could slow the process is disclosure. The defence wants 1,800 pieces of evidence analyzed before the case goes to trial which could take a long time.

Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, says there has been a disagreement with the prosecution over which items should be disclosed to the defence.

Peter Ritchie

"And they have reached various points where they've drawn a line in the sand depending on their interpretation of the law," he says. "We think the law supports our position, so as usual we need a judge to resolve this."

A judge has now been assigned to the high-profile murder trial. Mr. Justice Geoffrey Barrow will be on the bench when Pickton makes his next court appearance on May 25.

Crown counsel spokesperson Geoff Gaul says more charges could be filed before then.

"The Crown has indicated previously that it intends to add an additional seven counts to the indictment," he says.

"But what the final tally will be, we'll still have to wait and see. The review is still under way with respect to other matters, and the final number of counts on the indictment has yet to be determined."

Geoff Gaul

More than 60 women have disappeared from the Downtown Eastside since the 1980s, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts.

Police began a massive excavation of Pickton's pig farm in Port Coquitlam in February 2002, finding the DNA remains of some of the missing women.

Meanwhile, Pickton's lawyers say they want the case heard by a jury. The trial, when it finally starts, is expected to take at least eight months.

Copyright CBC 2005

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Updated: August 21, 2016