Some of the closing argument by Crown lawyer Mike Petrie on Monday at the first-degree murder trial of Robert Pickton in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C.:
“I caution you to base your interpretation of what's going on evidence.
There is no evidence as to what was going on in Mr. Pickton's mind, other than what can be reasonably ascertained or reasonable inferred from the circumstances.
You have the best evidence from the police officers who were present that Mr. Pickton did not appear to be tired, so the issue of fatigue is one that is wafted out to you but doesn't seem to be supported by the evidence and frankly as you go through, watching this, it's my submission you'll agree with what you can see.
These officers were sitting there, that's the evidence you have.
There is no evidence he was scared or what was going on in the workings of his mind.
Now, it's true you can draw certain inferences from certain words that were spoken and that's why I directed to you what I called were the themes.
[Mr. Brooks] asked you to look at it from the point of view of a person who might be characterized as a naive person who had been duped, a person who is wrongfully in those circumstances.
Think about this way. Think about it from the perspective of a man who had been arrested for a number of murders, in the investigation in a number of murders, who had repeatedly and up to that point successfully killed people and was caught.
Think about it from that perspective and look at, see if these themes that I have suggested to you aren't appropriate.”
“He says I don't know anything, and looking for sympathy through Don Adam when that portion of the interview begins and this is where he makes the transformation, I submit, from a poor simple farmer, to cagey negotiator.
He tries to control the direction of the interview, he tries the “I don't know anything” theme at first but the tenor fairly quickly changes when, I submit, it's Don Adam isn't going to accept that and doesn't accept that.
The tenor starts to change and he starts talking about Dinah Taylor and he attempts to negotiate with the police. He makes a number of admissions during that time and I say that's what you're looking for, is admissions against interest.
This is not somebody who is prepared to come out and say ‘I did it' or words to that effect, he is not going to make that kind of a clear-cut admission.
So he admits little things, he admits bits and pieces which you are going to take as a whole and look at in determining that these are admissions against his interest.
But he plays essentially, and Don Adam says it at one time, he's playing a game of cat and mouse with the police.
This is not a man who is subjugated by the will of others, he keeps saying no comment, no comment at this stage.
He's never ... they keep trying to get him to tell them something but he keeps saying no comment.
He corrects and challenges Don Adam and he talks about ‘I'm not going to walk' and so on, but now in the context of a negotiation.”
“When you have a test that says low scores here, higher scores here and no resolution of that issue it doesn't help you very much.
But you don't need it in my submission, anybody can look at the accused in that interview and can say ‘well he's a bit disjointed and he's rambling and he uses certain expressions in an odd way, and he might have some difficulties with some concepts' but that's how we evaluate people normally, day to day.
One thing we do know from the IQ test, which was a properly administered test, is that his IQ, his general IQ, is higher than his verbal comprehension IQ.
His IQ puts him in the low normal range and we know what that means, most people fall within a normal range and he's on the low end of that.
But of significance to you in my submission is this:
When you're trying to evaluate what that might mean, think about this — he is a standard deviation above mental handicapped or retarded as the (IQ) test establishes it.
In fact, I said he's nowhere near retarded to the doctor and he agreed.
So this is a man who has some difficulties. I think you might find that he tends to ramble on, he tends to speak as he thinks so the topics seem to flip from one place to another.
Even Dr. Krywaniuk said that in the course of his [testimony], he's a talker.
He's a talker and sometimes he moves from topic to topic, you'll see that in the interview he just seems to flit back and forth but that's not necessarily unusual either.
People do that. He has a short attention span, he moves from one place to another. However, the real question is, is he able to understand what is being said to him and is he able to speak back about the things that he knows and the answer to that is a clear yes.”
“[Pickton] relates, during the course of the cell plant statement a number of times what he had been told in the course of the lengthy interview and he has a very clear memory on most occasions of what it is he's relating after that 11-hour interview
Anybody suggesting of course that he didn't understand what was going on in that long interview would have reason to look at this and say ‘of course he did, he remembers exactly what they were talking about.'
You also surmise, you can properly infer from this that he thought he was going to be re-interviewed the next day. He was anticipating being interviewed and that he had it all set up as to what he was going to say.
He was going to play with them and say ‘well when they say to you, that's not what you were telling us yesterday' well he was going to ‘say well, he doesn't remember,' things like that.
He feels that he is in a position of authority over the police. He's not prepared to tell them what he did, it's almost, and I submit this is the logical inference, common sense inference that comes from what he is doing here, it's almost as though he needs to tell somebody what a good deal he's made, what a good bargain he is making with police.
He needs to say ‘this is what they don't know about me' and ‘this is why I am giving their head a shake' and he goes on of course he talks about a rendering plant and so on.
Now, my friend, Mr. Brooks, mentioned the number 50 coming from the police well. I think that's fairly apparent, I mean he was arrested for two murders and in for investigation of 48 others, so the number 50 wasn't off the table at any point in time.
But does he admit to killing 50 people, no, he says 49. That's not something that comes from the police, that's not something that he was parroting back.
The business about letting it rest for a while and going back out to get another 25, that didn't come from the police.
In fact, they had 48 on the list, 48 on that list and half the people weren't even on that list, that didn't come from the police, that came from him.
So what do you take from these conversations? Well, applying your common sense to it you take from it that although Mr. Pickton may have some odd turns of phrases and whatnot that he is quite able to communicate both with the police in the formal situation and certainly with this undercover officer in a situation where he believes he is talking to someone of a criminal bent.
That he recognizes that he's bargaining with the police to try and make some sort of a deal...
He thinks he may or may not walk, but he realizes that he's buried himself by things that he's said during the course of that interview.
As I said, to me at least, what I suggest to you possibly the most dramatic part of it is the ending.
The last clip that I played you, that there are these long pauses, clearly getting ready to go to sleep and you saw that long pause of a minute and 39 seconds or so, where he's drinking water and getting ready to sleep. The conversation has been over for a few minutes by that point essentially and then he ends basically by saying, in that clip at least, by saying so close because it's dwelling in his mind that he almost did it, he almost pulled it off.”