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...

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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.

Yesterday, 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.”

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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. Prosecutors say they might add seven more 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 June 22 as the date a judge for the trial will be appointed.