Jurors in the Robert Pickton trial are reacting with frustration towards police as they learn what they didn’t hear during the serial killer’s trial.
One of them has added his voice to those of family members and others who say a public inquiry is needed to examine how so many women could have gone missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for so long.
While jury members didn’t want to get into the details, one said learning Pickton was on police radar 10 years before the trial was troubling.
The 12-member jury deliberated for 10 days in December 2007 before finding Pickton guilty of six counts of second-degree murder.
A question they posed to the judge during their deliberations saw the case eventually appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The lengthy appeal process delayed the end of publication bans on evidence from the case, as did the fact Pickton remained charged with a further 20 murders.
But those charges were stayed last week and almost the entire body of evidence that police amassed in the case can now be published.
It includes the fact Pickton was charged with attempted murder of a woman in an incident that was eerily similar to the deaths of the six women he was convicted of killing.
“All six of the women that Pickton has now been convicted of killing disappeared and were killed after that 1997 charge,” said one juror.
“Had police done a more thorough job of investigating Pickton and his farm at that time, many lives could have been saved.”
But the juror said he didn’t think the story had to be introduced in court because those charges against Pickton were stayed.
The juror said he thought, for the most part, that the judge had made the right decisions in deciding what should or shouldn’t be allowed to be heard
Almost two-thirds of the way through the case, Justice James Williams also told the jury to forget about evidence they’d already heard concerning the skull of an unknown woman named Jane Doe.
“Crown indicated that overcoming the exclusion of the Jane Doe evidence proved to be their biggest challenge, but the exclusion of this evidence did not make any difference with respect to the way I personally viewed the case,” the juror said.
The juror said a public inquiry into police conduct should be called.
but he said the Supreme Court’s decision not to order a second trial in the case was the right one, as was the Crown’s choice to stay the remaining 20 charges.
“I’m glad the case is over,” he said.
“Not for myself, but because I didn’t want another jury to have to go through what we did had there been a new trial ordered.”
Jurors are not allowed to be identified nor can they discuss the content of their deliberations.
They had been warned at the start of the trial to expect a horror movie but another juror said he wasn’t disturbed by the evidence during the case.
He said he also wasn’t disturbed by some of the details that have since been made public, like the fact that human DNA was found mixed in packages of ground pork.
But that juror didn’t want to discuss the new evidence at all.
“It is my intention to not contribute to any more speculation about what should, or could, have been done or what might have been had events unfolded differently,” he said.
Other jurors reached by The Canadian Press would not speak publicly about the case.
The seven men and five women on the jury appeared to get along well, but one member was almost kicked off in the waning days of the trial.
In October of 2007, the judge told court officials that information had come his way that one juror was accused of talking about the case to outsiders, which is a juror’s mortal sin.
The juror was accused of initially telling her boss that she didn’t think Pickton could have committed the crimes, but further into the trial saying she changed her mind and that while Pickton was involved, he wasn’t the only one.
The question the jurors asked the judge during their deliberations was whether they could find Pickton guilty if they inferred he acted indirectly.
When she was questioned by the judge, the juror denied speaking out of turn, saying her boss was just out to get her.
“I think it’s ridiculous that somebody would go to these lengths to get rid of me,” she said. “I didn’t realize she hated me this much.”
In the end, while he said he was suspicious, Williams left the juror on the panel.