A pig farmer accused of being Canada’s worst serial killer was found guilty Sunday of six counts of second-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The verdict ended the trial of Robert ‘Willie’ Pickton on the first six of 26 murder charges in the deaths of women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts from a seedy Vancouver neighborhood.
Pickton, 58, was tried for the killings of Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury and Georgina Papin. The defense acknowledged that their remains were found on Pickton’s farm outside Vancouver, but denied he was responsible for their deaths.
The jury of seven men and five women began its deliberations Friday night. They had the option of finding Pickton guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter or not guilty on any of the six counts.
Pickton listened to the verdict with his head bowed. He will receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison and will not be eligible for parole for at least 10 years. The jury was deliberating Sunday whether to extend that 10-year period.
Two jurors, both women, wiped tears from their eyes while the verdict was read.
Prosecutors have said Pickton will be tried for the 20 other murder charges but no date has been set.
Last week, Judge James Williams reviewed the transcript of a videotape in which Pickton is heard telling an undercover police officer that he had planned to kill one more woman before stopping at 50, taking a break and then killing 25 more women.
“I was going to do one more; make it an even 50,” Pickton told the officer, who had been planted in the accused killer’s cell and gained his trust.
A day earlier, Papin’s three sisters cried and clutched each other’s hands in court while the judge reviewed the testimony of witness Lynn Ellingson, who said she walked in on a blood-covered Pickton as Papin’s body dangled from a chain in the farm’s slaughterhouse.
Prosecution witness Andrew Bellwood had testified that Pickton told him how he strangled his alleged victims and fed their remains to his pigs.