A jury in British Columbia acquitted hog farmer Robert Pickton on six counts of first degree murder but then found him guilty of second degree murder in each case.
The jury deliberated for more than one week and apparently compromised by convicting Pickton of the lesser crime. It's a bizarre verdict.
In Canada, murder is classified as first or second degree. First degree murder is a murder which is either (1) planned and deliberate, (2) contracted, (3) where the victim is an identified police officer (4) in the furtherance of another serious criminal offence (kidnapping, robbery, harassment, terrorist activity, or using explosives within criminal organizations, etc.).
Second degree murder is all murder which is not first degree.
The six counts are the first wave of prosecution of Pickton who faces as many as 20 additional counts of first degree murder.
Unfortunately, American media rarely pays attention to what happens north of the 49th parallel but Pickton is likely one of North America's worst mass murderers.
Prosecutors contend that Pickton lured the victims -- mostly considered to be drug additcts and/or sex-trade workers -- to his hog farm by offers of drugs and money.
Here's why the verdict was so bizarre.
During the trial, one witness testified that she came upon Pickton, who was covered in blood, in the farm slaughterhouse while he was in the process of butchering one of the women.
And Pickton appeared to admit to the murders several times — without making a clear confession — during a police interrogation and jail cell conversations. He said that he was "so close" to killing an even 50 women, but got sloppy and was caught. Once he complained to police: "You're making me out to be more of a mass murderer than I am."
Despite the apparent leniency, Pickton faces automatic life sentences on each of the six convictions and could be eligible for parole in as little as ten years. Immediately after the verdicts were announced the jury went back to the jury room to decide if they had a recommendation on how long Pickton should have to wait to be eligible for parole. The range is ten to 25 years.
UPDATE: The jury came back with no recommendation.