Canada: Undercover officer poses as cellmate; elicits grisly details


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW WESTMINSTER, British Columbia (AP) -- An undercover police officer put into the same cell as an alleged serial killer testified Monday that the jailed pig farmer voiced concerns about being ''nailed to the cross'' for dozens of suspected slayings.

Jurors also were shown part of a video taken while the officer was in the cell with Robert William Pickton on Feb. 22, 2002, after the farmer was arrested in connection with at least two murders.

Pickton is on trial for six alleged murders and is to be tried later on 20 additional murder counts. Most of the slain women were prostitutes or drug addicts among hundreds of women who disappeared from Vancouver's gritty Downtown Eastside neighborhood. He denies guilt.

During opening arguments in late January, prosecutors told jurors the undercover officer coaxed Pickton into telling him about the murders. Pickton is alleged to have said he killed 49 women and had meant to make it ''an even 50'' but that his sloppiness led to his arrest.

Jurors had yet to hear that part of the conversation by midday Monday.

The defense questioned Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers last week about the ethics of lying to Pickton to gain his trust.

The undercover officer, whose identify cannot be revealed under Canadian law, told the court Monday as the trial entered its third week that he was not given any details about the man he was supposed to spy on.

The officer, who said his cover story was that he was being held on attempted murder charges, said Pickton told him he had been arrested on two counts of first-degree murder.

''He was concerned about this, said they were looking at another 50 charges against him with relation to this,'' the officer testified.

The 12 jurors watched portions of a videotape in which the officer portrayed himself as angry over being put in a cell with another prisoner. The two eventually struck up a conversation about what brought them there.

The officer pretended to be skeptical when Pickton told him why he was arrested. Police would have to prove it, the officer said.

''They don't have to prove nothing,'' Pickton said. ''They can set you up.''

Pickton kept on talking to the undercover officer, even after the officer noted that their conversation was likely being recorded on the videocamera that he pointed out in a bubble in the cell.

During the conversation, Pickton appeared disheveled and pounded his bed with his fists. ''My name is mud,'' he said. ''I'm nailed to the cross. Screwed and tattooed.''

Pickton, 56, also told the officer about an attempted murder charge against him in 1997. In the videotape, he blamed the woman for the charge against him, which was later dropped. He said the woman knifed him because she wanted $3,400 he was carrying.

 

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