A Saskatchewan judge has granted bail to two sisters who have spent nearly 30 years in prison for what they say are wrongful murder convictions.
Odelia and Nerissa Quewezance were convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 stabbing death of 70-year-old Saskatchewan farmer Anthony Dolff near Kamsack, Sask.
The federal Justice Department started a review of their convictions last year, saying there may be a reasonable basis to conclude there was a miscarriage of justice.
Defence lawyers asked for the Indigenous sisters to get a conditional release while the federal review continues, and Justice Donald Layh of the Court of King’s Bench granted their request.
“I find that the Quewezance sisters have raised sufficient evidentiary matters that make their application of appropriate strength to support their release,” Layh told court Monday.
“They have raised several questionable circumstances under which they provided inculpatory statements to the RCMP in Kamsack. For example, they were young Indigenous women who had engaged in substantial drug and alcohol consumption within hours of their statements … their statements were neither audio nor video recorded.”
The sisters smiled at each other and looked over to family members sitting in the courtroom as the decision was read.
Many members of Dolff’s family left after the decision was announced.
A Crown prosecutor had argued that, even if there were issues with the police investigation, there was still enough evidence to show the sisters were involved in the killing.
James Lockyer, the sisters’ lawyer, has said the women are victims of racism in the justice system and false confessions.