NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. Robert Pickton's defence team rested its case Thursday with an appeal to the jury's strength and wisdom to conclude there's not enough evidence to convict the suburban pig farmer of murdering six women.
“Have the strength of knowing that you are in the best position of anyone in the world to make the determination on the evidence that you have here,” Adrian Brooks said, wrapping up a three-and-a-half-day final summation.
“You have the strength of the evidence, the evidence that tells you clearly, loudly there is a reasonable doubt.”
Mr. Brooks tied together many of the points the defence raised during the trial, arguing that neither the physical evidence nor testimony from civilian witnesses clearly link Mr. Pickton to the murders.
“Analyze that for all the forensic results here. Yes it has a degree of reliability about it but think through the inferences you draw for all of it,” he said.
“I expect you will see that the evidence does not provide the firm foundations that I have referred to.”
Mr. Brooks said Mr. Pickton's associates Pat Casanova and Dinah Taylor were more closely linked by forensic evidence to the six women than was Mr. Pickton.
Casanova, Mr. Pickton's partner in the pig-butchering business at his Port Coquitlam, B.C., farm, and Ms. Taylor were arrested in connection with the murders but never charged.
Mr. Brooks even pointed to Mr. Pickton's younger brother Dave as having left DNA evidence on a bucket containing the remains of two of the women.
Mr. Pickton's fingerprints weren't found.
Mr. Brooks spent a lot of time denigrating the evidence of some of the key Crown civilian witnesses, including Lynn Ellingsen and Andrew Bellwood.
Mr. Bellwood told the jury Mr. Pickton had talked to him about killing women. Ms. Ellingsen said she saw him in the act of butchering a woman they had picked up earlier in the evening.
But Mr. Brooks scoffed at the idea Mr. Pickton, 58, would confide in two people he barely knew while telling a close friend that he had nothing to do with murdering anyone.
As he reached the conclusion of his summation, Mr. Brooks took the jury through each of the six counts, highlighting the key points on each murder that the defence thinks rule out Mr. Pickton as the killer.
When he reached victim Marnie Frey, her daughter Brittney ran sobbing from the courtroom.
Outside the court, Lori-Ann Ellis, whose sister Cara Ellis is among the 20 additional counts of murder that Mr. Pickton still faces, said she thought the defence did a good job.
“I was trying to put myself in the place of the jurors and see how they would feel and because I had never heard the testimony before it was ... I was getting convinced,” she said.
“I think there was a couple of times he slipped up big time and we just hope the Crown is a lot stronger than the defence team was.”
Mr. Brooks initially said his closing arguments would take only a day and a half. But he told the jury on Day 3 the length of the case required a thorough rebuttal.
“The jury was paying close attention to what I had to say which was very fortunate given how long it had to be,” Mr. Brooks said outside court in a break before the prosecution began its final summation.
“I'm sure they'll pay that attention to the Crown's submission, too.”