Kelly Ellard says since the recent birth of her child she sees the world through different eyes but that wasn't enough to convince one Parole Board of Canada member that the convicted killer should be granted escorted temporary absences from prison.
After about 20 minutes of deliberation, board member Catherine Dawson said she and co-member Kim Polowek had failed to reach consensus on Ellard's application for outings to fulfil her parenting responsibilities.
"She was asking for up to five escorted absences per month and up to four hours for each absence," said Patrick Storey, regional manager for the Parole Board of Canada Pacific Region.
"She would be in the company of a trained escort at all times."
The two-hour hearing was held at the Fraser Valley Institution in Abbotsford, B.C., where Ellard is serving a life sentence for the second degree murder of Victoria teenager Reena Virk almost two decades ago.
Need to bond
Ellard told the parole board the birth of her baby is the "best therapy I could have asked for" and the best thing that has happened to her.
"I need to bond with this child," said Ellard.
"I need to grow just like this child does. I need to learn parenting skills."
Ellard said she has big plans for the future to do things together with her child but was careful not to reveal the baby's gender.
Ellard and the newborn are part of the prison's moms-and-babies program.
Baby's father in prison
Polowek questioned Ellard about her baby's father who is a two-time federal offender whose full parole was recently revoked.
What happened "was very disappointing" replied Ellard as she wiped away tears.
"Him and I don't have the average relationship."
Dawson asked Ellard about her recent behaviour while in prison.
Ellard said she has been incident free for 18 months and hasn't used drugs since she failed a urine test in June 2015.
Reena was beaten
In November 1997, Virk was lured to a secluded area under a Victoria-area bridge and beaten by a group of teens who included Ellard.
Virk managed to walk away, but Ellard and co-accused Warren Glowatski followed Virk and found her lying on the ground.
Ellard held Virk under water until she stopped moving.
Virk was 14.
Ellard was 15 at the time and is now 34.
Day parole hearing
Wednesday's hearing was Ellard's second request for parole since she was tried as an adult and convicted in 2005.
In May 2016, Ellard was denied day parole by another two-person Parole Board of Canada panel.
It found while she was finally admitting some responsibility for Virk's death, she was still "minimizing many aspects of the offence."
Ellard would have to wait a year before reapplying for day parole, but her next full parole hearing is automatically scheduled for February.
Ellard has waived her right to a full parole hearing four times previously while serving her sentence.
It is rare for a parole board panel not to reach a decision, according to Storey.
A new hearing for escorted temporary absences for Ellard will be scheduled in the not-so-distant future, he said.
"Two different board members will study the file and come to the institution to interview Ms. Ellard and review her request for escorted temporary absences,
"And they will make their own decision," Storey said.
Ellard says she needs permission to leave the prison for medical appointments and parenting programs.