Oswego Town Man Sentenced In Woman’s Death

OSWEGO, NY – An Oswego Town man was sentenced to the maximum this morning (June 30) in connection with the death of a woman last November.

Frank W. Ward, 45, of 171 Chapel Road, was arrested by Sheriff’s Department Investigators in November 2007 and charged with one count of first-degree assault, a class B felony, in connection with the ’suspicious’ death of 54-year-old Irene Doviak, also of 171 Chapel Road in the Town of Oswego.

He was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in state prison and ordered to pay $2,835 in restitution.

Last month, Ward admitted in county court that he “recklessly” caused the death of his live-in girlfriend.

He entered a guilty plea to one count of second-degree manslaughter.

Judge John Elliott and accepted the deal, which allowed Ward to plead guilty to the second-degree manslaughter count in full satisfaction of any and all of the charges in the original indictment; and he avoided going to trial.

In court today, Ward told family members he was sorry for what he did. Nothing he could say or do would change what happened, he admitted.

He didn’t turn and face the family members in the courtroom.

Assistant District Attorney Mary Rain read letters from Doviak’s sisters, Mary Parsons and Linda Parsons. Doviak’s brother, Tom Parsons, made a brief statement in court.

The family members encouraged the judge to give Ward the maximum sentence.

If the judge released Ward now or gave him the maximum, either way he would wind up paying for him (in state prison or on Social Services of some sort), Tom Parsons pointed out.

Ward is and always will be a loser, he continued.

Linda Parsons recalled family gatherings at Lake Ontario.

“When I come home this summer, my sister Irene, will not be there,” she wrote. “I miss her very much and it hurts me deeply how she died.”

She keeps a light in her kitchen window in memory of her sister, she added.

Ward was a man (Irene) cared for and trusted, her sister wrote.

“How did he repay her? He beat her, kicked her in the head and left her to die alone,” she wrote.

As a Christian, she doesn’t hate him, she noted, adding, “In fact, I will pray for his soul.”

Doviak’s death has broken her mother’s heart and caused her health to fail, Mary Parsons wrote.

“I lost my sister and my son lost his aunt. Maybe Frank Ward did not plan to kill Irene, but he did and I want him to pay for what he did,” she wrote.

According to Mary Parsons, her sister met Ward shortly after her husband of 25 years died of cancer and she had received a $96,000 life insurance policy in December 2006.

“Frank Ward took total advantage of her financially and emotionally,” she wrote. “Irene told me in October of 2007 she was running out of money. I hope (Ward) has trouble sleeping at night after he took our Irene away because we all do.”

She pointed out that Ward blames the incident on alcohol and claims her sister was also intoxicated. An autopsy showed no alcohol or other drugs in her body, she added.

If alcohol makes Ward kill, she advised the judge to include prohibiting him from ever using alcohol again “so he doesn’t kill someone else’s loved one.”

Ward got “a significant break” with the deal, which the family of the victim were satisfied with, “they didn’t want to go through the torment of a trial and hear about the death of their sister,” Rain explained.

Ward has always been “very remorseful,” according to defense attorney Eben Norfleet.

“I believe he is (remorseful). I believe he is,” Norfleet said. “In determining whether to go forward, we looked at the case before us; but he also considered whether he wanted to put all parties through a trial.”

“He has come in and pled guilty to recklessly causing the death of another,” Norfleet continued. “The sentence is not a surprise.”

However, Ward’s personality “doesn’t meet up with the crime he’s charged with,” Norfleet noted. He hasn’t been in trouble with the law since a drinking and driving offense many years ago, he pointed out.

Judge Elliott touched on that fact as he sentenced Ward, noting that while it may have been his first time in the judicial system, (manslaughter) was starting big time.

Doviak and Ward weren’t married, but lived together at 171 Chapel Road.

They had no children in common.

An altercation occurred at the residence and Doviak suffered injuries as a result, according to sheriff’s investigators.

Ward allegedly inflicting those injuries by striking and kicking victim, “causing serious physical injury,” investigators said.

However, he didn’t intend to kill her, Norfleet noted.

Ward entered a plea to the second-degree count (to recklessly cause) instead of the first-degree count (intended to cause) for that reason, he explained.

“There were five or six other people there when the incident happened, and they all leave,” the defense attorney said. “Not one of those people who saw what happened felt that, one, she was even seriously injured let alone injured to an extent that would have caused her death, because nobody came back. Her death was very unforeseeable.”

Ward’s conduct was “reckless.” And that is what he pled guilty to, his attorney said.

“There’s no getting around the fact that he said in his statement that he inflicted physical injury on her and she ended up dying,” Norfleet said. “When the offer was made that he could plead to manslaughter 2, which is recklessness, we both felt that was the appropriate way to proceed. My client regrets that he put himself and the family in this situation.”

“It’s a sad day; whenever we’re dealing with a case that involves the death of another, it’s a sad day,” Norfleet continued. “My client indicated to the judge that he was very sorry and there was nothing he could do or say to change what happened.”