Canada farmer is guilty of murder

A pig farmer accused of being Canada's most prolific serial killer has been found guilty of second-degree murder.

Robert Pickton, 58, was being tried for the murders of six women whose remains were found on his Vancouver farm.

Under Canadian law a murder conviction leads to an automatic life sentence. Pickton must wait 10 years for possible parole. He pleaded not guilty.

Pickton is charged with killing 26 women. A trial date for the other 20 murder charges has not been set.

He was found guilty of killing Mona Wilson, Sereena Abotsway, Marnie Frey, Brenda Wolfe, Andrea Joesbury and Georgina Papin.

Most of the women he is accused of murdering were prostitutes and drug addicts from a seedy Vancouver neighbourhood.

The verdict followed a week of deliberations by the jury, and 10 months of gruesome testimony and evidence.

Pickton's head was bowed as the verdict was read out. Two female jurors wept, and members of victims' families cheered.

The pig farmer denied killing any of the women, but prosecutors presented thousands of pieces of forensic evidence and showed video of him admitting to police that he was hoping to kill 50 women.

Pickton had been charged with first-degree murder but the jury lowered that to the less severe second-degree murder.

The BBC 's Ian Gunn in Vancouver says this means the jury did not believe there was sufficient evidence that Pickton had pre-planned all the murders.

Police raided Pickton's farm in 2002 and found the dismembered remains and personal belongings of the women Pickton was accused of picking up from the streets of Vancouver.

Parts of two of the women's bodies were found in five-gallon buckets in Pickton's freezer, parts of the others were discovered in a dustbin, a pig pen, and buried in manure on the farm.

The 10-month trial heard from almost 130 witnesses, including Lynn Ellingson, who said she once walked in on the pig farmer, who was covered with blood, as Ms Papin's body hung from a chain in the farm's slaughterhouse.

Our correspondent reports that the pig farmer's lawyers argued that none of the evidence proved that he himself had murdered the women.

But the prosecutor argued that the evidence, while circumstantial, was more than enough to prove that Pickton had been the murderer and the jury eventually agreed.

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