There will be no trial in the killings of three homeless in downtown Winnipeg last April after John Paul Ostamas admitted to all of them in court on Tuesday.
Ostamas, 40, pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and will be sentenced in June. He faces an automatic life sentence, but can be eligible for parole as early as 10 years and as late as 25 years.
Ostamas was originally charged with two counts of first-degree murder, however court heard that some of the statements he gave to police were untrue.
“He’s claiming in the agreed statement of facts that what he did was vengeance for people who raped his girlfriend,” defence lawyer Greg Brodsky told reporters after the trial.
“If he did extract vengeance and went out to find the people who did that and kill them as a result – that would be first-degree murder. We’re not pleading to first-degree murder; that’s himself puffing himself up.”
Brodsky said it would have been difficult to fight the charges since two of the murders were filmed on video surveillance.
Despite a history of mental illness, the defence opted not to attempt a ‘not criminally responsible’ application.
“We have an opinion in connection with his mental status and his ability to instruct counsel and we determined it would be inappropriate,” Brodsky said.
Ostamas did not speak during the trial except to answer ‘yes or no; questions from Brodsky and Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Vic Toews.
Miles Monias, 37, was attacked in a bus shelter on Main Street near Pioneer Avenue in the early hours of April 10, 2015. He later died in hospital.
Two weeks following, Donald Collins was led into a back lane near Hargrave Street and Portage Avenue where he was brutally assaulted. Hours later, Stony Bushie was attacked and killed in a parkade near Hargrave and Portage.
Ostamas was considered a ‘person of interest’ by Winnipeg Police in Collins’ and Bushie’s death. He was later arrested and charged for all three murders along with committing arson without regard for human life at the Winnipeg Hotel on Main Street the evening before Collins and Bushie were both killed.
Ostamas is from Eabametoong First Nation, also known as Fort Hope 46, which is 680 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg and 375 kilometres north of Thunder Bay.
Ostamas has been in Winnipeg on and off for 10 years, but lives a transient lifestyle, police said after his arrest. His only previous contact with Winnipeg Police was in connection with a domestic assault in March 2015, but he has a record for multiple assaults in the Thunder Bay area dating back to 2002.