Man wins settlement in wrongful conviction
Publication: National Post; Date:2004 Jan 15; Section:Canada; Page Number 5
wins settlement in wrongful conviction
by court for Niagara murders
BYADRIAN HUMPHREYS National Post
settlement in a malicious prosecution suit has quietly been reached between an
Ontario man and police and prosecutors who put him in prison for two brutal
murders he did not commit.
Frumusa, 44, of Fort Erie, spent eight years of a life sentence in prison after
a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in the deaths of a Niagara couple
who were beaten in their beds with a baseball bat, just months after they were
wedded in an odd marriage of convenience.
Frumusa's pleas of innocence were ignored from the time of his arrest in the
summer of 1988 until the flimsy evidence against him began to unravel. He was
freed on bail in 1996 and, in 1998, he was formally exonerated by an Ontario
year later, Mr. Frumusa sued Niagara Regional Police, the Ontario government and
various police officers and Crown attorneys who handled the case, seeking
$6.25-million in damages.
agreement between the parties has been reached, the National Post has learned.
settlement is in the process of being finalized now but an agreement was reached
last week," said Louis Sokolov, a Toronto lawyer representing Mr. Frumusa.
"Unfortunately, the terms of the settlement are entirely confidential. All
I can say is that the matter has now been settled. We can't give any
information," he said.
Damian Parrent, a spokesman for Niagara police, said the force would not comment
on the details but confirmed a settlement.
has been handled by the region's insurers and there has been a confidentiality
agreement signed by all parties involved," Supt. Parrent said.
spokesman for the province's Attorney-General said late yesterday he could not
comment on the case and requests for an interview with Mr. Frumusa went
Frumusa's case was unusual from the start.
starters, the victims were an odd pair: Richard "Hop" Wilson was a
70-year-old invalid and Annie Smith a 48-yearold nurse he married after a
contract was hammered out by lawyers that would see her care for the ailing Mr.
Wilson until his death, at which point she would receive a portion of his
pair met in a nursing home, where Ms. Smith looked after Mr. Wilson. But the man
longed to return to his home and the arrangement was struck to let Mr. Wilson
stay at home but not forego his daily care. Ms. Smith was the mother of Mr.
the older pair were murdered in their separate bedrooms, Mr. Frumusa was sent to
check on them by his worried girlfriend because her telephone calls went
unanswered. After getting no answer at the door, Mr. Frumusa had a neighbour
call police and waited. Officers found the bodies and arrested Mr. Frumusa. His
character might have been an issue: He was a cocaine user and dealer who hung
around with some unsavoury men with mob links.
evidence against him, however, was slim; no blood stain match-ups, fingerprints
found at the scene or tearful confessions. But the court did hear damning
testimony from a jailhouse informant, a career criminal whose nickname on the
street was Snake. He claimed Mr. Frumusa admitted the crimes to him over the
telephone while in prison.
James Lockyer, of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, has previously compared this case to the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin, who was exonerated by DNA evidence after being convicted of murder in the sex slaying of Christine Jessop primarily on the evidence of a man he met in jail while awaiting trial. firstname.lastname@example.org