“However, once again, there will be no accountability in this case. The man spent 32 years under a first-degree murder claim, 23 of them in prison, and no one’s accountable for that 32 years except him. It’s a familiar refrain in wrongful conviction cases”
After suffering a painstaking 32 years pleading his innocence, Frank Ostrowski finally regained his freedom in the fall of 2018. In 1987, Ostrowski stood accused of the murder of Robert Niemen, a drug dealer, by ordering a fatal shooting. This case was one plagued by the corruption of unreliable testimonies and the disgraces of professionals. The Crown managed to maneuver a deal with Matthew Lovelace, a separate cocaine dealer, who would testify against Ostrowski. Notwithstanding a police report that contradicted Lovelace’s testimony, his sentiments were considered in court and further exacerbated the evidence against Ostrowski. It was unsurprising that this coercive deal was striked by the leading prosecutor George Dangerfield, who was ill-reputed for his 3 previous wrongful convictions.
The verdict of this endless trial resulted in Ostrowski being charged as guilty for the murder of Nieman in 1995. This was the cornerstone of what would be an enervating 23 years of prison for Ostrowski. In December 2009, the case was brought to the public eye again, as a judge on the Court of Queen’s Bench expressed serious concerns over the misjudgement and conviction involved in this case. Ostrowski was granted bail temporarily but his team of lawyers, including James Lockyer, co-founder of Innocence Project Canada, wanted the case to be appealed. In 2014, Peter Mackay, the federal justice minister of the time, concluded that the case had obscured justice and demanded that it be reviewed by Manitoba’s Court of Appeal. The three judges from the panel who deliberated his case in 1987 agreed that Ostrowksi was denied the right to pressing information that may have changed the circumstances or perhaps even the verdict of his trial. Ostrowski, still pending a Criminal Conviction review, has not yet been acquitted but his case has been quashed, as in legally voided. Ostrowksi is relieved that he maintained his innocence for all those years and is ecstatic to start his life anew.