The third week of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry concluded today with emotional testimony from Ernie Crey, Angel Wolfe and Lillian Beaudoin as they described losing sisters (Dawn Crey and Dianne Rock) and a mother (Brenda Wolfe) in unspeakable circumstances. 

Dianne Rock: murdered, but charge against accused killer stayed in 2010

Both Mr. Crey and Ms. Beaudoin expressed their disappointment and anger about the Ministry of Attorney General’s 2008 decision that Robert Pickton would not be tried for additional murders if his six convictions were upheld on appeal.  They were referring to media reports like the one reproduced below.  The twenty outstanding murder charges were formally stayed by the Crown in a brief court appearance before Mr. Justice James Williams on August 4, 2010, after the Supreme Court of Canada had dismissed Pickton’s final appeal.


Justine Hunter, The Globe and Mail, February 27, 2008:

Serial killer Robert Pickton will not face a trial on 20 first-degree murder charges unless he successfully appeals his first six murder convictions, B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal confirmed yesterday.

“It would not be in the public interest to proceed further against a person who is already serving six life terms with no eligibility of parole for a minimum of 25 years,” Mr. Oppal told reporters.

He acknowledged he will face criticism from some of the families of the 20 victims who have not had their day in court, but he insisted the cost of the trial was not a factor in the decision.

“We can’t put a price on justice,” he said. “The public interest here involves putting everybody through a second trial given the fact that no further punishment can be achieved by virtue of further convictions. He is now receiving the maximum sentence.”

Lori-Ann Ellis, whose sister-in-law Carrie Ellis is among the 20 outstanding cases, told the Canadian Press she wants the trial to go ahead.

“Six of the 26 were given justice, they were given their day in court,” she said. “The families had an opportunity to speak in public … on how it affected them. That’s something this family will never have.

“We want to know why the government feels that the murders and lives of these girls are not important enough to proceed with a trial.”

Ernie Crey wasn’t expecting to see justice for his sister Dawn. Although traces of her DNA were found on Mr. Pickton’s pig farm, no charges have been laid in her case.

But he said the decision is a terrible one for families.

“If my sister were amongst the 20, I would be camped out in Wally Oppal’s office right now until he reversed that decision,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Mr. Oppal said victim service workers have been working to contact about 200 family members connected with the 20 victims.

“I know the lawyers in the justice branch agonized over this decision,” he told reporters yesterday.

Mr. Pickton, 58, faced 26 first-degree murder charges in all, but the judge at his first trial divided them into two groups and the jury heard evidence on only six.

After an 11-month trial, he was convicted in December on lesser counts of second-degree murder in the killing of six women whose partial remains were found on his Port Coquitlam pig farm.

Peter Ritchie, lawyer for Mr. Pickton, said he wants to see the written reasons before he responds.

“We are not entirely surprised the Crown has said that, but we will not react until we have seen the documents.”

But Mike Farnworth, the New Democratic Party opposition’s justice critic, said he was disappointed with the decision.

“The victims and families deserve justice – all of them do – and the trial should go ahead.”

Mr. Oppal said the second trial could go ahead if Mr. Pickton wins his appeal. The case is back in court next week. If an appeal is granted, the Crown will pursue 26 charges of first-degree murder.

“These are very difficult cases to put together, they take a human toll on everybody involved,” he said.

With a report from The Canadian Press