ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Convicted killer Kelly Ellard says she sees the world through different eyes after becoming a mother, 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 newborn baby's doctors' appointments, but the two board members were split on their decision Wednesday.
The 34-year-old told the panel she needed to bond with her baby, adding she had "big plans" for their future and she wanted 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."
She was convicted of second-degree murder after being tried as an adult in the 1997 death of 14-year-old Reena Virk near Victoria. Virk was swarmed and beaten by a group of teenagers.
Ellard was tried three times, and those trials heard she and Warren Glowatski followed Virk after the girl limped away and then drowned her in the Gorge waterway.
The Parole Board said another hearing will be held for Ellard at a later date. She is seeking up to five supervised absences a month, for up to four hours each time, over a 90-day period.
A media report last October said Ellard was eight-months pregnant following a conjugal visit from her boyfriend. The gender of her child was not mentioned at Wednesday's hearing.
The baby is living with her 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told Ellard she was concerned about her relationship with the baby's father, a two-time federal offender whose parole was revoked last year after an alleged breach.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 special pact to rely on each other to avoid drugs or crime. She said it was more motivating to be with someone with a criminal past, rather than a person who "hasn't been through it."
Ellard avoided discussing the breach the man is alleged to have committed, but said recent events were "very disappointing" to her.
At a hearing last May, when her request for day parole was rejected, Ellard took responsibility for the death of Virk after repeatedly denying she was involved, but said she was a child herself at just 15 years old.
Polowek said Wednesday she was concerned about the "many varying versions of events" Ellard had provided over the years. Her file was filled with examples of "sneakiness or manipulation," in which she denied incidents or refused to take full responsibility, the board member said.
"I wonder: Is there more to come?" she asked.
Ellard said there was not, adding that she had only told one other version of Virk's death, in which she denied drowning her.
She said Wednesday that she and Glowatski followed Virk and found her unconscious. Ellard flicked on a lighter to see Virk's face, which was covered with blood, mud and matted hair.
She began to shake and cry as she described the image.
"It's not something you forget," she said.
Ellard said she splashed water on Virk's face to try and wake her up, but she did not react. Glowatski suggested they get help, but Ellard refused and pushed Virk into the water, she said.
She said it was an act of "self-preservation."
"I sort of panicked. It's like sweeping something bad you've done under the rug."
Her trials heard she held Virk's head under the water, but she denied it.
"She was unconscious," Ellard said. "There was no need for that."
Ellard said it took her a long time to share the truth, in part because she thought her admission might cause Glowatski 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.
Ellard added that she felt every time the story changed, it caused Virk's family more pain.
"I don't feel like 'sorry' is good enough. Their life has been completely ruined," she said. "I wish there was something I could do to make it better."
Throughout the hearing, Ellard stressed that while she used to think only of herself, she now understands the consequences of her actions on others.
She said she is undergoing therapy to deal with her anxiety and anger issues, and she has not used substances since June 2015, when she failed a drug test.