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Judge grants bail to Quewezance sisters

Quewezance sisters' don't pose a danger to the public and aren't a flight risk, ruled Justice Donald Layh.
Nerissa and Odelia Quewezance embrace for the first time in 18 years when they appeared in November 2022 at Yorkton Court of King's Bench.

YORKTON –  A judge has granted bail to Odelia, 51, and Nerissa, 48, Quewezance who have served approximately 30 years in prison for a 1993 murder in Saskatchewan. After court adjourned, applause erupted in the gallery.

Justice Donald Layh handed down his decision Monday in Yorkton Court of King’s Bench. He ruled that the sisters' application for bail wasn't frivolous, they aren't a flight risk, and don't pose a danger to the public. The sisters appeared in court in person. 

The Quewezance sisters, from Keeseekoose First Nation, were convicted in 1994 of second-degree murder in the death of Kamsack-area farmer Anthony Joseph Dolff. However, they have maintained their innocence. A young offender – who admitted to committing the murder alone – was sentenced to four-years in prison.

Justice Layh pointed out that Innocence Canada laywer James Lockyer had previously asked the Saskatchewan government to reduce their three-decades old second-degree murder convictions to manslaughter but the province had turned it down. 

Nerissa and Odelia have the support of high-profile advocates such as Senator Kim Pate, Innocence Canada, Kim Beaudin from Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and the late David Milgaard.

In addition, Justices Harry LaForme and Juanita Westmoreland-Traore said their case is a possible miscarriage of justice and called on the Parole Board of Canada to release them. The two justices were appointed by Federal Justice Minister David Lametti in 2021 to head the creation of the independent Criminal Case Review Commission [Bill C-40, David and Joyce Milgaard’s Law], to review wrongful convictions.

Lametti’s office is currently reviewing Odelia and Nerissa Quewezance’s 1994 convictions as a possible miscarriage of justice. If Lametti orders a new trial, then the case will go back to Yorkton Court of King's Bench for a possible new trial. If Lametti orders an appeal then it would go to the Court of Appeal.

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