The huge amount of evidence in the case against Robert Pickton, accused in the deaths of 15 women, might mean Pickton won't go to trial until sometime in 2006...

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NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — The huge amount of evidence in the case against Robert Pickton, accused in the deaths of 15 women, might mean Pickton won’t go to trial until sometime in 2006, four years after he was arrested, a judge says.


Today, Chief Justice Patrick Dohm made a lengthy and unusual plea to the families of the women Pickton is accused of killing, asking for their understanding in the continuing delays.

“Every effort is being made to get this matter on for trial,” he said. “It may not appear so to the families. I’m asking you to be patient a little while longer.”

Pickton, a pig farmer from the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam, was arrested in February 2002. He is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of missing women from Vancouver’s tough Downtown Eastside. Prosecutors say they could add another seven counts before Pickton goes on trial.

Dohm set the next hearing date for March 31. He said he hopes lawyers for the defense and government at that time would be able to set a timeline for pretrial arguments to begin.

Dohm also set a second date of June 22, at which time he said the judge in the trial would be appointed.

Those dates suggest the pretrial arguments, which could take as long as four months, won’t begin until the fall. That means the trial itself likely won’t start until 2006.

Outside court, defense lawyer Peter Ritchie said there are five lawyers and court staff working on the defense. In addition, the defense team has had to hire experts in document control.

Ritchie said if all the evidence were on paper, it would fill many rooms. Most of it is on computer discs.

Police said in October their probe of the farm owned by Pickton and his siblings has turned up 31 separate DNA samples.

Police made the disclosure as they added eight more names to the list of women missing from the Downtown Eastside, bringing the total to 69.