So now we know. Robert Pickton had a willing accomplice in disposing of fifty bodies and perhaps even help with some of the murders. We were allowed to believe for several years that a one man killing machine stalked hookers on Vancouver's Skid Row, and like some sort of Nazi fiend he cut a swath through their ranks. I refer to "Nazi" here because much was made of the fact that many of his victims were aboriginal prostitutes and it is very distasteful to believe that he had a racist contempt for their lives. Still, it was never adequately explained how, with the downtown East population so terrorized, the phantom was able to rack up fifty kills ! Remember how the television blared warning after warning, sex trade "activists" patrolled the sidewalks and the Vancouver beat cops counselled the hookers in alleyways..."be safe girls". And yet they continued to get lured out to the Coquitlam piggery and auto wrecking yard.
Now we know it wasn't just the lure of Pickton's drugs and money. There were two pig butchers in Coquitlam. One looked like a thug but the other was a grandfatherly type - an Asian who reassured the ladies and partook of a little ass meat of his own. Just a few "blow jobs," Pat Casanova admitted yesterday in court. Nothing more.
WHO IS PAT CASANOVA? (And what a bitterly ironic surname!)
Pat Casanova, aged 67, immigrated from the Philippines in 1974. He has a wife and four adult children. (He claimed in court that he was unable to have sex with the missing women, but admits to receiving "blow jobs" from four of the women whose flesh and or bones were located by police. (What a Clintonesque distinction about the sex act!) Casanova was arrested on January 25, 2003 in connection with the Pickton serial murders. He was released but the police kept forensic evidence seized from his home in Surrey, B.C. including a band saw with human DNA present, which has since been introduced as prosecution evidence.
On Monday (June 4) Casanova told lie after lie under oath. On Tuesday and Wednesday cross examination tore his credibility to shreds and he backtracked on several key points. First he admitted that he lied to the Task Force officers who arrested him in 2003, and that explains IN PART why he was not charged. I suspect that in a few days he will be arrested and charged when they have finished taking his testimony in court. If not, then the trial should be halted and Pickton set free. (The Air India terrorism trial set that ugly legal precedent.)
Have no doubt that Casanova is a criminal. (He has admitted to many unlawful acts in court.) And that is why he was drawn into the world of Robert Pickton, left it temporarily, and returned. Initially Casanova told the jury that he was a janitor who part-timed as a hog butcher. On Tuesday he admitted that he was actually a full-time meat dealer, and had been running a cash business in the Philippine community all through the 80's and 90's. Which means countless restaurants, meat shops, and Philippine wedding parties bought his goods for cash and are implicated as customers in the underground meat trade. It turns out that while the cops let him go in 2003, Revenue Canada went after him for back taxes. (And that is why he is now a janitor.) I did a YAHOO. Philippines search this A.M. and found that not a single newspaper over there is covering this murder trial. They should be. It's more and more a Filipino story. Knowing for example, that our law enforcement has consulted with the Philippine National Police, Casanova admitted that he owned a handgun in the Philippines, but added he never kept one in Canada. It turns out that Casanova's Philippine pals were running a cock fighting pit (gambling for cash) inside the same shed where these women were butchered. The Filipino organizer of the events lived in Casanova's home (which suggests he is a relative). Pickton's girlfriend, Gina Houston testified on May 29 that Willie had revealed to her back in 2002 that up to six women were buried 3 1/2 feet below the cock fighting pen in the barn.
[June 22 Update] Career criminal Scott Chubb testified that upwards of sixty "Asian men" would attend the cock fighting matches. Chubb has a criminal record stretching back to 1985. "It includes break and enter, theft, forgery, possession of stolen property, forcible confinement, assault with intent to commit robbery and possession of a restricted firearm." He was employed by the Pickton brothers in a number of odd jobs, including removing nails from lumber salvaged in the Pickton's home demolition business. The Mounties paid Chubb over $13,000 (that we know of) to keep him happy, and he attempted to extort a further $100,000 reward for his deceptive information. His testimony is virtually worthless, and the bogus comments about "injecting anti-freeze" were gobbled up by the media and turned into misleading headlines. [Update end]
It gets even more surreal. On Monday Casanova told a cock and bull story about an altercation with his friend Pickton which led to a hiatus in their business relations which lasted almost two years. (This testimony was to distance himself from Pickton during the time period when the killer was most active.) Under cross examination Tuesday he was forced to admit that he had his tracheotomy operation on June 22, 1998; (not in 1999 as widely reported) he was thus actually sidelined dealing with his throat cancer for a time, and then returned to Willie's farm as a full time supplier of pork to the underground market. He then began receiving his coveted and sorely missed "blow jobs", using Pickton's own bedroom.
Four of the the butchered women serviced Mr. Casanova in Robert Pickton's bedroom, yet Casanova made no attempt whatever to implicate Pickton in the sex acts or even place him in proximity to the four dead women! This establishes Casanova as the last person to see at least one of the women alive - Andrea Joesbury. Casanova testified he has trouble getting an erection with white women. (The liar got plenty of sex therapy to work out his anxieties. He also admitted he paid the rent of a prostitute to gain access to her apartment for sex, and may have "loaned" another as much as $2,500. So we just have to picture the bizarre sex scenes in Pickton's trailer bedroom. Girls trying to earn their $30. fee for "blow jobs" from this agitated senior laying on his back with a thumb to his throat implant - who responds to their efforts with an eerie electronic "eeYah babee, eeyaaaah". How creepy could it get?
Well, Casanova and Pickton are still buddies. There is no ill will between them. The star prosecution witness was observed giving accused killer "Willie" Pickton a big friendly smile on Monday when court broke for lunch. Petti Fong of the TORONTO STAR has covered the Pickton case for years. Her brief coverage of the trial this week is an interesting variant because her description of Mr. Casanova considers his strength as a potentially threatening man, describing him as "slight, yet muscular". Only one other reporter, also a woman, had her eyes open. Jennifer Lang of the Surrey Leader, saw him as a "barrel chested" man and noted that though a female Filipina translator sits at his side, Casanova is self-assured and doesn't defer to her lingual skills. The white men among the journos clearly see Casanova as a wimp. But the disarming grandfatherly appearance is exactly the point. It may explain how a few of those fifty otherwise street-savvy hookers were persuaded to sleep at the Pickton complex. They didn't all arrive drunk or stoned out of their minds.
The prosecution attempted to use Casanova on Monday to establish Pickton's pig butchering methodology, because the next step in court is to demonstrate how they match the destructive damage done to the women as their bodies were rendered. Casanova is actually building a good case for letting Pickton off the hook, establishing his own technique of cutting the skulls of pigs with a band saw. (Female skulls were found bisected with a band saw - which turned out to have human fat stuck to it.) We have always been led to believe that Pickton is a scary, dim witted "pig butcher", but buying pigs at auction was actually just one of his businesses. It is actually Casanova who was the full-time pig butcher, and he has now testified that Pickton was often so busy with other business that he would elect to take his own hog carcass to a commercial butcher to have it cut up. If Casanova doesn't shut up he is going to 'blow' much of the prosecution's case.
Pat Casanova admitted repeated lying to serial-killer task force, which allowed him to escape criminal charges.
Missing woman Andrea Joesbury. Casanova told the jury he knew her as "Angel" (a popular given name in the Catholic Philippines.) He has now admitted to having sex with her frequently in Pickton's bedroom. Andrea's body parts were found in a freezer in the building Casanova had been rendering hogs for well over a decade. Casanova made no attempt whatever to allege that Pickton had done anything to the woman.
Until this week I thought the Pickton murder case was just another sordid B.C. murder trial with no drama to distinguish it. There have been so many serial murder cases on this coast that people have lost track. Now the Pickton - Casanova case threatens to become a test of the justice system itself, and quite frankly I believe they might drop this one, just as they blundered the Air India bombing trial.
Nobody pondering the towering monolith of Canada's version of "due process" would advocate the Chinese solution - a speedy showtrial - sentencing, and - ten days later a bullet in the head. But we all know that THE LAW is all about the process, and careers. Rarely, if ever, do we feel justice is served and in fact we begin to wonder why we should uphold it ourselves. And that's why the five percenters (as our police call them) are so emboldened out here in La La Land.
Update Thursday June 7: The Casanova testimony is concluded, and court is not in session today. The jury will reconvene on Monday. I was heartened by one article published this A.M. by THE GLOBE & MAIL. Reporter Robert Matas began his account of Wednesday's testimony with this : "The jury at Robert Pickton's trial appeared troubled yesterday, looking as if they were trying to figure out the conflicting testimony of Pat Casanova. Some peered at him with wrinkled brows. Others sat back and stared at the ceiling with perplexed looks on their faces. " Well it's very reassuring to learn that the jury is waking up to the fact that they have, until now, been overburdened with forensic details. It's time to get back to PEOPLE. I for one want to know much more about Pat Casanova.
Recall that at the beginning of the trial the prosecution played the eleven hour police recording made with Pickton in 2002, on the the day after his arrest. Pickton insisted "I'm not the only guy." Later in that interrogation, Pickton boasted: "I'm the head honcho, you know that." O.K. we all can accept that Willie was the devil come to the surface, but justice demands that we prosecute the disciples as well. If the Crown is going to let the disciples walk, just to ram through a dodgy conviction of Pickton, that will never do. A gutless judge let the Air India butchers walk, purely for the same political reasons which delayed their arrest, so this jury may have to hold it's collective nose and let the murdering weasel go free.