Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Unger's ordeal to end Friday

Crown to announce it has no evidence for murder retrial

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Kyle Unger will walk out of a Winnipeg courtroom Friday a free man, ending a nearly 20-year legal odyssey after being charged and convicted for one of the most sensational murders in Manitoba history.

Legal sources close to the case tell the Free Press the Crown will announce it has no evidence to retry Unger for the murder of 16-year-old Brigitte Grenier that shocked the province.

The high school student was killed during an outdoor rock concert near Roseisle in June 1990.

Her mutilated body was found by a nearby creek. At the time, Grenier's murder was described as one of the most disturbing in the province's history.

Unger, who is currently free on bail and has already travelled to Winnipeg from his home in Merritt, B.C., is to appear Friday morning at the Law Courts Building.

The proceeding is scheduled to last only an hour.

Provincial officials are reportedly going to meet with the Grenier family on Thursday.

It's unknown at this point if Unger and his lawyer have reached any deal for compensation with the province after Unger spent almost 14 years in prison for Grenier's death. Unger was freed on bail in 2005 after a DNA test disproved hair-comparison evidence used at the 1992 trial that convicted him in Grenier's death.

In March, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson ordered a new trial for Unger.

"I am satisfied there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred in Mr. Unger's 1992 conviction," said Nicholson in statement.

Unger is represented by Calgary-based lawyer Hersh Wolch, although at his last Winnipeg hearing he was also represented by Toronto lawyer James Lockyer and Winnipeg lawyer Alan Libman.

Wolch did not comment on the upcoming hearing when the Free Press contacted him earlier this week.

Timothy Houlahan was also convicted of Grenier's murder but he killed himself in 1994 after being freed from jail while awaiting a new trial.

Unger's case is one of several prosecuted by now-retired Crown attorney George Dangerfield.

Dangerfield was at the helm of two confirmed cases of wrongful murder conviction -- James Driskell and Thomas Sophonow. Two judicial inquiries raised concerns about police and Crown conduct in those cases.

Unger was convicted after an elaborate sting operation by Mounties where officers posed as gang members along with testimony from a jailhouse informant. Strands of hair found on Grenier's sweater that were initially believed to have come from Unger were also key to the conviction.

Unger's case is not the last wrongful conviction file to see the inside of a Manitoba courtroom this year.

In September, Stanley Frank Ostrowski applied for bail while his 1987 murder conviction is reviewed by Nicholson's office. Dangerfield also handled the prosecution of Ostrowski.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2009 A3

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