Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Pig farmer calls murder charges mere `hogwash'

'PIG GUY' As Canada's most sensational murder trial continues, the jury watched an interview of the suspect with police in which he claims innocence

AP , NEW WESTMINSTER, CANADA

Jurors in the murder trial of a pig farmer accused of slaying 26 women watched videotaped interviews in which he told police the allegations against him were "hogwash," yet conceded he is "a bad dude."

The 12 jurors began listening to 11 hours of videotaped interviews with Robert Pickton on Tuesday, the second day of the most sensational murder trial in Canadian history.

Pickton, 56, has been charged with 26 counts of first-degree murder. Most of the victims were prostitutes and drug addicts who vanished from a drug-ridden Vancouver neighborhood in the 1990s. He has pleaded not guilty to the first six counts. A separate trial will be held for the other 20 murder charges.

The interviews showed Pickton telling an undercover police officer that he killed 49 women and intended to make it "an even 50" before he got sloppy and was caught, prosecutors said. Pickton would go on to describe himself as a mass murderer who deserved to be on death row, government prosecutor Derrill Prevett said.

In the interview with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Surrey, British Columbia, on Feb. 23, 2002, a disheveled Pickton, slumping in his chair, laughed when Staff Sergeant Bill Fordy told him he was being investigated for "upwards of 50 other disappearances and or murders."

"In your own words, Rob, can you explain to me what that means to you?" Fordy asked Pickton.

"What it means to me -- Hogwash," Pickton answered. "I'm just a working guy, a plain working guy is all I am," he said. "I'm just a pig man."

But "I'm a bad dude," he then added.

Prosecutors on Monday laid out some of the gruesome evidence against Pickton, including skulls, teeth and DNA of the six women that were found in the freezer, slaughterhouse and troughs at Pickton's 7 hectare pig farm outside Vancouver.

Pickton's lawyer, Peter Ritchie, said his client did not kill or participate in the murders of the six women.

Pickton and his brother David raised pigs on the farm in Port Coquitlam, a working-class community on the outskirts of Vancouver. The farm was razed in 2002 and the province of British Columbia spent an estimated US$61 million to sift through the soil.

Unlike the chaotic scene on Monday at the courthouse, there were 10 empty seats in the 50-seat courtroom on Tuesday as many family members said they could not stomach further testimony. About 300 media have been accredited for the trial.

Rob Papin, a cousin of a victim, said he was attending for his relatives and to help other families, especially as the victims are referred to as prostitutes and drug addicts.

"When the labels start coming out it really pisses me off because I think it's easier for them to try to dehumanize the victims than to actually see them for who they were -- mothers, daughters, especially women," Papin said.

When police first visited the farm in 2002 to investigate, they found two skulls in a bucket inside a freezer in Pickton's mobile home. DNA testing identified the skulls as belonging to two missing sex workers from an impoverished Vancouver neighborhood.

Prevett said one of the victims' earrings was found in the slaughterhouse. He said human bones were found mixed with manure and that part of another victim's jaw, with five teeth still attached, was found in a pig trough.

Pickton, clean-shaven with a bald crown, sat emotionless in a specially built defendant's box surrounded by bulletproof glass. He carried a notebook and thick green binder which appears to carry legal documents.

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