Robert Pickton backgrounder

The following is taken from the Ministry of Attorney General's guide to the case of R. vs Robert William Pickton, accused in the Supreme Court of British Columbia of the first-degree murder of six women: Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Georgina Faith Papin, and Marnie Frey.


On February 22, 2002, the Crown approved two charges of first degree murder against Robert William Pickton. Over the next several months, the Crown charged Mr. Pickton with additional counts of first degree murder bringing the total to 15 by October 2, 2002.

The preliminary inquiry began in January 2003, in the Provincial Court of British Columbia at the Port Coquitlam Courthouse before the Honourable Judge David Stone. The preliminary hearing lasted approximately six months, ending in July 2003, with Judge David Stone ordering Mr. Pickton to stand trial on 15 counts of first degree murder. In order to ensure trial fairness, there is a ban on publication with respect to the preliminary hearing proceedings.

In May 2005, Mr. Justice James Williams was assigned to be the presiding judge. Crown prosecutors also added an additional 12 charges to the indictment for a total of 27 counts of first-degree murder. This was reduced to 26 counts in March 2006, when one of the counts was ruled to be a nullity.

Mr. Justice Williams presided over the voir dire portion of the proceedings which began in January 2006. On August 9, he issued a decision to sever charges based on his concern that proceeding to trial on all counts would impose an unreasonable burden upon members of the jury in terms of the anticipated duration of the trial, volume and nature of the evidence, and the complexity of the legal arguments. Mr. Justice Williams noted that the evidence in support of six counts was materially different from the others and ordered the remaining counts to be severed from the indictment.

On September 8, 2006, the Crown announced its decision to proceed on those six counts first with the balance to be tried separately at a later date. The names of the victims associated with the six counts are Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Ann Wolfe, Georgina Faith Papin, and Marnie Frey.

The jury empanelment process was completed on December 12, 2006, and the trial before the jury began on January 22, 2007. The Crown called 98 witnesses to testify in the presentation of its case to the jury. The Defence called 30 witnesses for a total of 128 witnesses who testified during the course of the trial. The Crown rested its case on August 13, 2007. The presentation of evidence concluded on October 16th, 2007 when the Defence rested its case.

The jurors are presently scheduled to hear final arguments from both Crown and Defence beginning November 19th followed by Justice Williams’ charge to the jury after which the jury will be sequestered to consider the verdicts on the 6 charges of first degree murder against Mr. Pickton.