In the long row of seats reserved for relatives of the missing women, only one chair was filled every day since the pre-trial hearings for Robert (Willy) Pickton began in B.C. Supreme Court in January.
Pickton is accused of killing 26 women, and another 41 women are still missing from the Downtown Eastside. But Lance Henry, brother of Janet Henry, one of the missing women, was the only relative to show up daily at the precedent-setting trial.
But from now on, his second-row seat -- where the friendly, soft-spoken man sat directly behind Pickton -- will be empty.
Henry died last week in his East Vancouver apartment. An emotional memorial service was held Tuesday at a native friendship centre on East Hastings, attended by more than 150 people.
Henry's sister, Sandra Gagnon, said an autopsy indicated her fit-looking, 46-year-old brother died June 14 of an enlarged heart, and that further tests are being conducted to determine why.
Although Janet Henry is not among the women Pickton is accused of killing, Lance Henry said he felt the need to go to court to support her and the other women who disappeared.
Pickton's pre-trial hearing --which will determine the evidence that will be heard when the actual trial begins later this year or early next year -- is protected by a publication ban.
The legal arguments have often been dry and technical, but that didn't deter Henry from taking the SkyTrain to court in New Westminster each day. He carried his baseball cap and little else because of the two security screening stations that court visitors have to go through.