Relatives of 20 missing women among first 200 signatures on online appeal to Oppal
VANCOUVER - An online petition is demanding B.C.'s Crown prosecutors go ahead with a second trial against Robert (Willie) Pickton to determine whether the convicted serial killer murdered another 20 women.
Relatives of some of the 20 women started the new year by signing the petition, posted Jan. 1 by an Ottawa resident who closely watched Pickton's first trial, which ended last month with six second-degree murder convictions.
"I feel it's extremely important that they go ahead with the second trial," Lilliane Beaudoin, sister of Dianne Rock, said in an interview from her home in Welland, Ont.
"We need justice too. This is my sister. We need someone to be held accountable,"
Beaudoin, her husband and her mother all signed the petition, which by its second day had about 200 signatures.
The former Port Coquitlam pig farmer was charged with killing 26 women who disappeared from the Downtown Eastside.
A Supreme Court judge split his charges into two trials, fearing one mega-trial would be too difficult for a single jury.
Pickton was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years after the six murder convictions at his first trial, which was a long, complicated legal proceeding.
Advocates for the other 20 women fear authorities may not go ahead with the next trial.
"My sister needs her time in court," Beaudoin said.
"I have a lot of unanswered questions. This is my one and only means of getting answers."
Like Beaudoin, Judy Trimble has been encouraging family and friends to write to politicians to lobby for the second trial. Trimble is the mother of Cara Ellis, another of the 20 women Pickton is charged with killing.
"We're very optimistic and hopeful that [the trial] will be held," said Trimble, of Calgary.
Pam Eyre, who organized the petition from her Ottawa home, is not connected to anyone missing from Vancouver but attended memorials for women who disappeared from Edmonton when she lived in Alberta.
"It's a huge, huge issue. This petition isn't going to be able to speak to it all, but it will let the Crown at least know there are a lot of people who want to see [Pickton] stand trial for these additional murders," Eyre said.
"These families need to know the public really does care about their family members and they absolutely deserve to see justice done for their loved ones."
Prosecutor Geoff Gaul, who speaks for the Crown in B.C., said a decision has not yet been made regarding the second trial.
"What happens in the future, whether we carry on with that prosecution, is an issue that will be determined at a later date."
Gaul would not comment specifically on the petition, but said generally that the decision will be based on the available evidence and the public interest.
Potential dates for the second trial are to be discussed in B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 24.
The petition is addressed to B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal, whose office deferred all comments to Crown prosecutors.
Some pundits and defence lawyers have said there is likely no need for an expensive second trial since Pickton has received the heftiest sentence available.
sign the petition here