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At times, it was difficult to tell whether Ms. Houston was a witness for the prosecution or the defence.
She testified that Mr. Pickton told her shortly before his arrest that he did not kill any of the missing women from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
He said a woman named Dinah Taylor was responsible "for three or four," Ms. Houston said.
But a day earlier, Ms. Houston gave testimony that sounded less favourable to Mr. Pickton. Ms. Houston said Mr. Pickton was suicidal during the conversation shortly before his arrest. He said police would find as many as six bodies on his pig farm, Ms. Houston told the court.
Ms. Houston, 39, was talking about the same conversation on both occasions. However, Crown prosecutor Mike Petrie and defence lawyer Marilyn Sandford asked her about different portions of her conversation with Mr. Pickton.
Ms. Houston, a cancer patient who has frequently used cocaine, was a close friend of Mr. Pickton. Her first day in the witness box was highly emotional.
She appeared much more relaxed yesterday, although she was once again brought into court in a wheelchair. She left no doubt about her feelings for Mr. Pickton. He was always polite, well-mannered, gentle, kind, considerate and soft spoken, she told the court.
Police began an intensive search of Mr. Pickton's farm on Feb. 6, 2002. He was arrested and charged with two murders on Feb. 22, 2002. Ms. Houston said yesterday she spoke to Mr. Pickton on Feb. 20, 2002, two days before his arrest, while they were in a vehicle outside her home.
Ms. Houston said she introduced the subject of Vancouver's missing women into their conversation. As they sat in the vehicle, Ms. Houston questioned Mr. Pickton about a phone conversation they had had in early December of 2001.
She told the court she had heard a woman scream in the background when she was talking to Mr. Pickton at that time. She overheard Mr. Pickton saying several times, "Stop it. Not here." And then the phone line went dead.
She had seen media reports stating that a woman named Mona Wilson went missing in late November of 2001. During the February conversation, she asked Mr. Pickton what was going on during their earlier phone call.
Mr. Pickton told her that a woman named Mona was hurt but he did not kill her, she said. "You asked [Mr. Pickton], did you kill any of the women, and he answered no," asked Ms. Sandford, the defence lawyer.
"That's correct," Ms. Houston replied.
Later, Mr. Pickton told her that he believed Ms. Taylor was responsible for three or four and would "do the right thing."
Mr. Pickton's defence team has repeatedly drawn attention to Ms. Taylor during the trial. The police arrested Ms. Taylor before they arrested Mr. Pickton but released her without pressing any charges. She has not testified at the trial.
Ms. Houston told the court that she saw Ms. Taylor in August of 2001 with Sereena Abotsway, one of the woman that Mr. Pickton is accused of murdering. Ms. Abotsway was reported missing in August of 2001.
Ms. Taylor lived at Mr. Pickton's home on the farm for three months while recovering from a car accident. Ms. Houston told the court she saw Ms. Taylor with Ms. Abotsway in Mr. Pickton's bedroom.
Ms. Houston recalled that Ms. Taylor and Ms. Abotsway were having a disagreement at that time, although she did not remember what they were saying.
Meanwhile, although most witnesses at the trial have avoided looking at Mr. Pickton, a 36-year-old woman who testified during the 17th week glared at the pig farmer with disdain as she testified, her mouth wide open.
Giselle Ireson seemed like she could not take her eyes off him, however, she later told the court she was scared. That's why she told police she did not have anything to say when they first contacted her, she said.
"I was scared. I still am scared," Ms. Ireson said as Mr. Pickton sat unusually erect in the prisoner's box. He did not look at her. He kept his eyes on a blank notepad on his lap.