The upholding of serial killer Robert Pickton's conviction means some murder victims' families may never get closurehttp://www.edmonton
By ANDREW HANON
Friday, June 26, 2009
Randall Knight calls it "survivor's guilt."
"It feels like we finally get justice, but the other 20 families get nothing," he said yesterday, moments after serial killer Robert Pickton's conviction for the murder of Knight's sister, Georgina Papin, was upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court.
Knight was huddled with two other sisters, Cynthia Cardinal and Elana Papin, yesterday in Cardinal's Mill Woods home. They were awaiting the decision on Pickton's appeal of his 2007 conviction for killing six women, butchering them and dismembering their bodies at his suburban Vancouver pig farm.
Pickton's lawyers had appealed the second-degree murder convictions, arguing that the trial judge had erred in the instructions he gave to the jury before they began deliberating.
In a 2-1 decision yesterday, the B.C. Supreme Court justices ruled that the error wasn't serious enough to compromise Pickton's right to a fair trial.
Pickton still has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, but it wasn't clear yesterday whether his lawyers planned to. Cardinal said she was told by victims' services that he has until the end of August to decide.
Pickton was also charged with killing 20 more women, but those cases haven't gone to trial. The Crown said that if the first six convictions are upheld, it won't pursue the rest.
Cardinal said when they got the news yesterday, the trio were momentarily "dumbfounded. Then we were overwhelmed with joy. Then we realized what it meant to the other 20 families."
Members of those families were furious that the government doesn't plan to pursue their loved ones' cases, arguing that they will never see justice.
"We want to be happy, but we also want to have respect for all the other families," said Knight.
The decision to divide the case has long been a sore point with the victims' families.
"They should never have split off those other 20 charges," said Cardinal angrily.
Tammy Papin, another sister, said while she's happy the convictions were upheld, she's disappointed that it's only second-degree murder. Pickton was initially charged with first-degree murder.
But at long last, they can hold a funeral for their sister.
"We finally get a death certificate," said Papin. "We won't get her remains (until the final avenue of appeal is settled), but we can go ahead."
They hope to hold it in September. That way, unless Pickton decides to appeal again, they should finally be able to bring Georgina's remains home.
All that remains of her body are a few bones from her hand, which were recovered from the hellish nightmare that police found on Pickton's 17-acre farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C. All of the 26 women whose remains were found there led troubled lives of drug addiction and prostitution in Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside, where Pickton is accused of luring them back to his farm with drugs and money.
Georgina grew up in foster care with only her brother Rick. They didn't even know about their seven other siblings, who were raised in various homes around Edmonton. For the thousandth time yesterday, Cardinal's eyes welled with tears.
"God, I miss her."
Of the six women Robert Pickton is convicted of killing, three are from Alberta:
Georgina Papin: a member of the Enoch Cree Nation near Edmonton
Mona Wilson: Her mother was a member of the O'Chiese First Nation near Rocky Mountain House, but Mona spent most of her childhood in foster care in B.C.
Brenda Wolfe: born in Pincher Creek and grew up in Calgary
The other three victims are Sereena Abotsway, Andrea Joesbury and Marnie Frey.
I wish I knew what meant for the other 20 families. On one side I am ecstatic that the conviction was upheld as my friends Georgina and Brenda got justice. None of the women "deserved" to die the way they did. Pickton has until September to decide whether to appeal this decision or not. If he doesn't then that means the families can give their family member's a decent send off, whatever that is.
I recently attended an aboriginal ceremony that celebrated the life of a beautiful and strong aboriginal women who passed away much to young. It celebrated life and the idea that the spirit was with us. It was the first time that I had been at a funeral where it wasn't maudlin, it was uplifting and I felt my higher power there. My hope is that the families can finally perform a similar ceremony for their loved ones, so they remember them for who they were and not what the media has made them out to be...drug addicted, prostitutes.
I really would love the media to have seen these women the way I did. I didn't know the ones that disappeared later on as they came to the Downtown Eastside after my daughter and I left. My life hasn't always been easy and I have had many struggles. I battle my own demons, everyday. People look at me and think how could she possibly know what life was like down there on the low track? I may not have lived on the streets but I had my fair share of struggles, some were of my own making, others were not.
These women were special and they had family and children that loved them. My heart goes out to each and everyone of those family members that lost a loved one to this sick and sadistic monster. My heart goes out to the friends and the street families that loved these women as women, as friends.
Please let's not forget the 27th charge that was thrown out on the "Jane Doe". Someone must be missing her, who is she? Why did she have to die like the others? Please pray to God, to the Creator, the Goddess, whomever you believe is your Higher Power to get answers about this young women. Someone out there is missing a member of their family. I know if I was missing a loved one I would want answers.