Jurors unclear on the concept

This is what a Canadian jury found that Robert “Willie” Pickton did to six women:

During his trial, a prosecution witness Andrew Bellwood said Pickton told him how he strangled his alleged victims and fed their remains to his pigs. Health officials once issued a tainted meat advisory to neighbors who might have bought pork from Pickton’s farm, concerned the meat might have contained human remains.


During the trial, [victim] Papin’s three sisters cried and clutched each other’s hands in court while the judge reviewed the testimony of witness Lynn Ellingson. In her testimony, Ellingson said she walked in on a blood-covered Pickton as Papin’s body dangled from a chain in the farm’s slaughterhouse.

Before the jury started their deliberations on Nov. 30, Judge James Williams reviewed the transcript of a videotape with them in which Pickton is heard telling an undercover police officer that he had planned to kill 50 women, take a break, then kill 25 more.

So let me reiterate:  the jury concluded on the evidence before it that Pickton did indeed savagely kill all six women, before feeding them to the pigs.  Nevertheless, in a move that will leave me perpetually perplexed, the same jury also concluded that he didn’t plan to kill them:

A jury convicted a 58-year-old pig farmer Sunday of murdering six women, handing him an automatic life sentence but finding that the killings were not planned.

Robert ‘Willie’ Pickton still faces 20 more murder charges for the deaths of women, most of them prostitutes and drug addicts from a seedy Vancouver neighborhood. If convicted on all those charges, he would become Canada’s most prolific serial killer.


The jury of seven men and five women took 10 days to reach a verdict. 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.

First-degree murder, which means a murder was planned, also carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison but does not offer parole eligibility for 25 years. The second-degree charge offers parole eligibility in 10 years.

Does it make any sense to you that, with that evidence before them, the jury could hold that Pickton murdered the women and simultaneously mitigate his sentence by concluding that he didn’t mean to do so?


14 Responses

  1. Baffling. I’m no lawyer but wouldn’t a similar finding here in the states be second degree murder (lack of aforethought?) Or even voluntary man slaughter?

  2. Well, at least they got the most important part correct. But these are Canadians, after all – they don’t want to think poorly of anyone.

  3. I read that he will be sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for PAROLE after 10 years.
    The inmates are running the asylum.

  4. Perhaps this is a insanity defense. He thought he was just making pig slop, right?

  5. Based on a sample size of three (the number of times I’ve actually sat on a jury so far), I can say that the process by which a jury arrives at a decision bears only an incidental and fleeting relationship to the evidence presented at trial.

    If that sounds strange to you, consider that one of the juries I served on was hung up for three hours by one man who finally admitted that if we didn’t reach a verdict by 5:30, we would all be given $4.50 to pay for dinner. (We all chipped in for his dinner, convicted the defendant and went home.)

  6. Pickton was found guilty of six counts of first degree murder, but only gets life in prison with a chance of parole after ten years? What’s wrong with this picture, and what’s wrong with Canda?
    Each count SHOULD carry the death penalty.

  7. And America thought it was the World Series of serial killers. Anywho not funny. Conviction for 2nd degree murder in Canada is a life sentence with eligibility for parole in 10 to 25 years. The judge has not set the number of years for parole eligibility in this case yet..Guaranteed it will be 24 years.Pickton is also charged with a further 20 first degee murders.The crown has yet to decide whether to proceed.I quess it costs governments money like the 94 OJ trial. Pickton will get the 24 years eligibility parole ruling for sure. Take it to the bank and cash it. Now I ask is the 24 years any more ridiculous than Charlie Manson being eligible for parole after 25 years in California’s Helter Skelter murders ? Think about it.

  8. What’s wrong with Canada?

    Liberals have turned our justice system into a joke that is what is wrong with Canada.

    If you are wondering what conservatives in Canada think of all this you could go to one of the best Canadian blog called Small Dead Animals.

  9. By the way Why I was going to mix pork and beef burger today and make a nice hot chili but due to your pig slop comment above I’m switching to something lighter. The guy Y knows to get to a guys heart or to the heart of the matter is through someones stomach but I couldn’t get by my gag reflex mode because of his comment..Veggie burgher it is !

  10. After 10 days, it was surely a compromise that avoided a hung jury and let the jurors go home. There was probably a holdout juror who thought he was not guilty by reason of insanity or some such, but who agreed to the compromise.

  11. Don’t worry swamp, democratic socialism will have all of us eating each other’s biceps as well as meaty female thighs before the century is out. Wait for that deliciousness.

    There was probably a holdout juror who thought he was not guilty by reason of insanity or some such, but who agreed to the compromise.

    Humans in non-hierarchical groups are some of the most irrational social constructs that have ever been constructed.

    Without technology and education, it never would have worked better than the alternatives.

  12. There’s too much we don’t know about the jury to come to any firm conclusions. I don’t know the Canadian selection system, and I don’t know whether or not during voir dire (if they have it) there are jury consultants inputting to the lawyers, etc. There could well have been a couple of people the defense managed to get on who are just firmly opposed to the death penalty, period. Too much we don’t know, and can’t find out.

    “Fair and impartial” is a nice theory, but that’s all it is: a theory. The reality is that every juror comes to court with his or her personal biases, prejudices,and predispositions that will absolutely prevcent that person from rendering a “fair and impartial” verdict – which is precisely the kind of jurors both sides want, and the defense will spend a lot of money on consultants to find the ones prejudiced their way.

    The real goal of voir dire is to find jurors who are biased, prejudiced, and predisposed in your favor.

    Trials, at least in America, are not about truth and justice: they’re about winning. Prosecutors want convictions to build a record of putting bad guys in jail – so they can be elected or appointed to higher, including political, office. The defense wants acquittals because acquittals in high profile cases make them rich. The end result is neither side is partricularly interested in truth or justice: justice is when they win.

    I don’t know, as noted, about Canada, and its equivalent of voir dire, but if it’s anything like the US, you can bet that the defense was working overtime to get at least one person on that jury who wouldn’t vote for the 1st degree with the possibility of execution if it had been Hitler on trial.

    Looks like they succeeded.

  13. We do have voir dire in Canada, works like it does in the United States. And as far as finding jurors who are opposed to the death penalty, that’s a moot point here: We don’t have capital punishment in Canada.

    Now, people are going crazy over the *eligibility* for parole in 10 to 25 years. One of the words in the previous sentence is key. He can be *eligible* for parole next week, and he’ll wind up in the same place that he will 25 years from now: Rotting in prison.

    You have a better chance of cloning yourself at home than Pickton has of ever being free again. “Eligible for parole” does *NOT* mean that they will be paroled. Let’s use that common sense thing that seems to be in such short supply these days.

    Oh, and for CR, Pickton was charged with six counts of first-degree murder. He was convicted of six counts of *second*-degree murder.

  14. Wasn’t sure about that, either – I know Europe in general does not have execution anywhere, didn’t know about Canada.

    That being said, it may be less safe to assert that he has no chance of parole. “Eligible” is certainly not the same as seeing it granted, certainly: but who knows what Canadian society will look like in 25 years?

    Always better to resolve the problem now than count on your descendants feeling your same sense of outrgae in the nebulous future.

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