Robert Pickton was today found guilty on six charges of second-degree murder in a courtroom in New Westminster, B.C. However, he was found not guilty on six charges of first-degree murder.
In a move that Pickton’s defense attorneys said denied their client of a fair trial, Judge James William revised his instructions to the jury part way through their deliberations, telling them he had made an error when he initially explained what it would take to convict Pickton, and saying they could find Pickton guilty even if they believed he was only indirectly linked to the murders. It’s likely this action will be used as the basis for any future appeals.
There was abundant evidence presented during the trial, including mutilated body parts, DNA matched to the victims and the accused, hours of video tape of police interviews with Pickton, testimony by an alleged eye-witness who claims she saw Pickton–covered in blood–butchering one of the victims hanging on a meat hook, and a possible confession from Pickton to an undercover officer.
However, the defense maintains the evidence isn’t conclusive. It’s reasonable that the accused’s DNA would be found on his own farm and in his own home. The eye-witness who testified about seeing Pickton committing one of the murders was a confessed drug addict. And Pickton, they say, is an individual of “limited intelligence” who’s apparent confession was obtained by police using sophisticated techniques of manipulation and lies.
The convictions carry an automatic life sentence, however the jury still has to determine whether Pickton will be eligible for parole after sometime between 10 and 25 years.
Outside the court, the families of the victims expressed disappointment at what they see as only a partial victory, the second-degree rather than first-degree convictions. One told reporters, “It’s not right.”