ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Convicted killer Kelly Ellard says she sees the world through different eyes after the birth of her newborn baby, but her emotional plea for prison leave wasn't enough to convince one parole board member.
Ellard was asking the board's permission for escorted absences for parenting programs and her child's doctors' appointments, but the two board members were split on their decision Wednesday.
The 34-year-old told the panel she wanted to bond with her baby, adding she had "big plans" for her future with her child and she needed to start now.
"It's kind of amazing how much this child has calmed me," she said before breaking down in tears. "It's the best therapy I could have hoped for." The gender of her child was not mentioned at Wednesday's hearing.
Kelly Ellard and her father Lawrence leave the Vancouver courthouse, March 30, 2000. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Ellard was convicted of second-degree murder after being tried as an adult in the 1997 beating and drowning death of 14-year-old Reena Virk near Victoria.
The Parole Board said another hearing will be held for Ellard at a later date.
She was seeking up to five absences a month, for up to four hours each time, over a 90-day period. Ellard would be supervised by a correctional officer, a chaplain or a trained civilian.
A media report said last October that Ellard was eight-months pregnant following a conjugal visit from her boyfriend.
Baby living in prison with Ellard
The baby is living with her at the prison as part of a Canada-wide program that allows incarcerated mothers to live with their infants in special rooms.
Board member Kim Polowek told Ellard she was concerned about her relationship with the baby's father, a two-time federal offender whose parole was revoked last year after an alleged breach.
Ellard responded that the pair had a plan to rely on each other to avoid substance use or criminal behaviour. She said it was more motivating to be with someone who also has a criminal history, rather than "some random person who hasn't been through it."
She avoided discussing the parole breach her boyfriend is alleged to have committed, but said it was "very disappointing" to her.
"I don't have the level of confidence I once did," she said, choking back sobs.
Admitted to murder last year
At Ellard's day parole hearing last May, she took responsibility for the death of Virk after repeatedly denying that she was involved, but said she was a child herself at just 15 years old.
Board members rejected her request for parole then, saying she came across as "very entitled" in presenting her case for release.
Ellard was tried three times in Virk's death, and testimony from those trials heard that she and Warren Glowatski followed Virk after the girl limped away from being swarmed and beaten by a group of girls.
But Ellard's story to the parole board in May differed from what the trials heard. She repeated a similar story to the panel on Wednesday.
Kelly Ellard in shown in an artist's drawing while she is on the stand at her trial at B.C. Supreme Court on July 7, 2004. (Photo: Jane Wolsak/The Canadian Press)
Ellard said she and Glowatski did go after Virk and found her near the edge of the water.
She said she flicked a lighter to see Virk's face and observed the girl was covered in blood. She asked Glowatski to help her bring Virk closer to the water and began to splash her face, but she said Virk did not react.
Her trials heard Ellard held Virk's head under the water, but she denied it.
"She was unconscious. There was no need for that," she said Wednesday.
"I wonder: 'Is there more to come?'"
Board members told Ellard they were concerned about the many varying versions of events she has provided over the years. Polowek also said examples of "sneakiness and manipulation" were all over her file, in which she denied incidents or refused to take full responsibility.
"I wonder: 'Is there more to come?'" asked Polowek.
Ellard said she had only told one other version of Virk's death, in which she denied putting her in the water.
'I felt very guilty'
She said it took her a long time to share the truth, in part because, although she disagrees with Glowatski's version of events, she thought her admission might cause him more trouble.
"I felt very guilty," she said. "I know that he's done a lot to change his life."
Glowatski, who was convicted of second-degree murder, was released on full parole in 2009 after offering an apology to Virk's parents.
As for the Virk family, she said, she felt that every time the story changed, it caused them more pain.
Ellard said she knows the loss of their daughter has been "devastating."