06/20/2016 18:51 EDT | Updated 06/21/2017 01:12 EDT

Woman convicted in savage killing allowed out of prison for healing ceremony

CALGARY — One of three women convicted in a savage killing in April 2006 has been granted a temporary escorted absence from prison to attend an aboriginal healing ceremony, even though she isn't aboriginal.

Calgary radio station CHQR says it has obtained Parole Board of Canada documents showing that the panel approved the absence because Sara Ann Rowe has adopted the aboriginal culture as her own and has utilized elders and others as support.

Rowe was sentenced to life with no parole for 12 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the death of sex-trade worker Ruchael Friars, 34.

Crystal Dawn Struthers and Alexis Vandenburg pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 8 1/2 years each.

Their trial was told the trio beat, burned, cut and strangled cut Friars, glued her eyes shut, cut off her hair and carved the word ''Rat'' into her forehead because they mistakenly believed she was a police informant.

Friars' body was found in a hockey bag in a landfill nearly two months later.

The parole board noted Rowe has had a checkered past in custody, reporting a long list of institutional charges and fights that resulted her in being segregated from other prisoners.

But the board said she has shown improvement, has completed a number of institutional programs, and admitted she has more work to do.

In her hearing earlier this month, Rowe said she was “young, angry, addicted and strongly influenced by the need to impress or gain respect in the street subculture” at the time of Friars’ killing.

Rowe became eligible for day parole last summer but hasn’t applied. She could apply for full parole in June 2018.