Nova Scotia

Drunk driver's transfer to halfway house angers widow of N.S. crash victim

A woman from East Lawrencetown, N.S., is angry the drunk driver who killed her husband has been transferred to a halfway house after serving less than one-quarter of her sentence.

Kyla MacLellan killed Andrea Burnett's husband while driving drunk in July 2013

Andrea Burnett's husband Mark was killed by a 20-year-old female drunk driver in July 2013. (Jack Julian/CBC)

A woman from East Lawrencetown, N.S., is angry the drunk driver who killed her husband has been transferred to a halfway house after serving less than one-quarter of her sentence.

"As a victim, you want that person to have some kind of punishment, because you are going to be punished for the rest of your life," said Andrea Burnett.

Her 55-year-old husband, Mark, died after 20-year-old Kyla MacLellan smashed into his SUV near Lawrencetown Beach on July 10, 2013.

MacLellan had been partying at the beach all night. She drove home drunk and then decided to drive back to see the sunrise.

On Sept. 4, 2014, she was sentenced to five years in federal custody for impaired driving causing death. On Nov. 4, 2015, she applied to be transferred to a halfway house in Moncton, N.B.

'Part of me wanted to hear remorse'

Burnett attended the hearing to oppose the move, but also to hear from the woman who killed her husband.

"I think part of me wanted to hear remorse. A part of it [was that] I wanted to hear that she got it," she said.

Kyla MacLellan was supposed to serve five years in federal prison for impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm. (CBC)

Burnett says she didn't find what she'd hoped for.

"What I heard was it seemed to be everybody else's fault still, so she didn't get it," she said.

In its report, the Parole Board of Canada quoted MacLellan's parole officer as emphasizing "his concern over your choice of negative associates and poor decision making abilities."

But the board also noted MacLellan had shown considerable improvement during her time in prison.

"According to file information, you began drinking alcohol in your early teens and also experimented with different drugs throughout the years," the board said in its report. The board also noted that in her late teens, MacLellan became depressed and started harming herself after she stopped using cocaine.

In granting day parole, the board ordered MacLellan not to consume drugs or alcohol and to stay away from anyone involved in criminal activity.

Burnett said she hopes MacLellan can be rehabilitated, but she thinks leaving prison after 14 months of a five-year sentence doesn't reflect the severity of the crime, or the pain it caused her and her family.

"She didn't kill me, but she killed my husband. She killed the love of my life," Burnett said.

"To this day I can't help [it], but I cry every day. And I probably will the rest of my life."

About the Author

Jack Julian

Reporter

Jack Julian joined CBC Nova Scotia as an arts reporter in 1997. His news career began on the morning of Sept. 3, 1998 following the crash of Swissair 111. He is now a data journalist in Halifax, and you can reach him at (902) 456-9180, by email at jack.julian@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter @jackjulian

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