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John Ostamas, Second-Degree Murder Convict, Handed Stiffest Prison Sentence In Manitoba History

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WINNIPEG — A homeless man who brutally beat three other transient men to death in separate attacks blamed police as he was handed the stiffest sentence in Manitoba history — life in prison with no chance of parole for 75 years.

john ostamas

John Ostamas pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder. (Photo: Jonathan Ostamas/Facebook)

"Who made me like this?" John Ostamas said Monday when he was given the opportunity to address his sentencing hearing.

"The only reason I'm like this is because they violated my human rights — the police," he said in reference to a confrontation with officers as a young man that he said left him with a large scar on his face.

Ostamas, 40, had earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder. The April 2015 killings shocked city residents and prompted police to warn Winnipeg's homeless population to be cautious about their security.

"The only reason I'm like this is because they violated my human rights — the police."

In each attack, Ostamas beat and stomped a heavily intoxicated individual — one in a bus shelter, one in a back alley and a third in a parkade. Each victim suffered dozens of injuries, mostly to the head and neck.

"These monstrous murders were the work of a serial killer," Crown attorney Sheilla Leinburd told court.

The victims were suffering from "abject and dismal vulnerability" and "had no place to run, no place to hide," she added.

The Crown and defence jointly recommended a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years, served consecutively. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Vic Toews accepted the recommendation and said he would issue his written decision at a later date.

Victim's family 'happy' with decision

The sentence was welcomed by Franklin Bushie, whose uncle Stony Bushie was one of the three men beaten to death by Ostamas.

"We'll be okay. We're happy. He gets to live in prison for the rest of his life and pass away in there," Bushie said outside court.

"I don't understand a person that can do something like that."

Court was told Ostamas was born in Thunder Bay, Ont., and grew up in Port Hope. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was frequently hospitalized, according to letters from family members and evidence presented by the defence.

A letter from his sister read out in court said Ostamas would generally be well-behaved but could turn aggressive. He has multiple assault convictions dating back to 2002 in the Thunder Bay area.

'I was wrong.'

Ostamas apologized to the victims' families in court Monday.

"I was wrong. I am willing to accept my consequences."

Ostamas was caught on security camera during two of the killings, and he confessed to all three when interviewed by police.

His lawyer, Greg Brodsky, told court a federal penitentiary may have the mental health services Ostamas needs.

"He has some problems that should have been addressed over the years that may now be addressed."

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