The murder of Reena Virk and trials of Kelly Ellard
On Nov. 14, 1997, Reena Virk was swarmed and beaten under a bridge in Saanich on Vancouver Island, B.C., by a group of teenagers, mainly girls.
Battered and bloodied, the 14-year-old managed to get up and stagger across the bridge toward a bus stop to make her way home. Two of the original attackers dragged her back and beat Virk again, leaving her in Victoria's Gorge waterway. Police found her body eight days later.
Six girls — ages 14 to 16 — were sentenced in 1998 for their roles in the initial beating. Warren Glowatski, who was 17 at the time, was convicted of second-degree murder a year later.
Kelly Ellard, meanwhile, has stood trial three times in connection with Virk's death. In 2000, she was convicted of second-degree murder but, three years later, the B.C. Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. That ended with a deadlocked jury.
A third trial in 2005 again convicted Ellard of second-degree murder, but the B.C. Court of Appeal ordered a fourth trial in 2008. However, the Supreme of Court of Canada upheld the third conviction in June 2009.
Here are some key dates in the case:
June 12, 2009
The Supreme Court of Canada restores the second-degree murder conviction against Kelly Ellard in the 1997 death of B.C. teen Reena Virk. In an 8-1 decision, the top court overturns a B.C. Court of Appeal decision that threw out Ellard's conviction on the grounds that the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury.
March 19, 2009
The B.C. Court of Appeal rejects Ellard's application to be released while the Supreme Court of Canada hears arguments on whether a fourth trial should proceed.
Jan. 12, 2009
A five-judge panel of the Supreme Count of Canada rules unanimously that B.C. prosecutors can proceed with their appeal before the high court of a split lower-court ruling to retry Ellard.
Sept. 5, 2008
The B.C. Court of Appeal overturns Ellard's second-degree murder conviction and orders a fourth trial, saying the trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury over testimony. One of the three appeal justices, however, disagrees with overturning Ellard's conviction.
June 21, 2007
Warren Glowatski is granted day parole.
August 3, 2006
A B.C. judge rules that Ellard will get legal aid to pay for her latest appeal.
July 20, 2006
Warren Glowatski is granted unescorted temporary absences from prison.
July 7, 2005
Justice Robert Bauman sentences Ellard to life in prison, calling Virk's death a senseless and remorseless crime. Ellard must serve seven years before she can seek parole.
April 12, 2005
Third trial finds Ellard guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Virk.
April 7, 2005
A third jury begins deliberating the fate of Ellard.
April 6, 2005
Final arguments wrap up in Ellard's third trial. Ellard's lawyer attacks the testimony of key crown witnesses, saying almost every one of them described new memories after being prodded by the police and the Crown. The Crown prosecutor argued that as a whole, the testimony points to Ellard as a murderer.
March 17, 2005
The crown's key witness – Glowatski – describes how he and Ellard followed Virk as she staggered away from a group of teens. He testified that he and Ellard beat Virk and left her for dead in a waterway.
Feb. 21, 2005
Ellard goes on trial for a third time, accused of killing Virk. It is more than seven years after Virk was swarmed and beaten by a group of teenagers. Ellard was 15 when she was first charged. She's now 22.
Nov. 19, 2004
Glowatski is denied day parole.
July 18, 2004
Justice Selwyn Romilly declares a mistrial in Ellard's second-degree murder trial after jurors says they are deadlocked. "All things must come to an end. That time is now," the jury wrote.
July 14, 2004
Jury begins its deliberations in the murder trial of Ellard, accused of killing Reena Virk in 1997, when they were both teenagers.
July 9, 2004
Ellard defence rests its case after its last witness testifies that Glowatski, convicted of second degree murder in the case, paid her to spread stories that Ellard had killed Virk.
July 8, 2004
Ellard finishes her third day of testimony, still denying she killed Virk, but saying, "I'm obviously going to be convicted. You've got what you want, my life is ruined."
July 6, 2004
Ellard admits to punching Virk, but says she did so because she thought Virk was going to hurt one of her friends. She denies drowning her in the tidal inlet.
June 30, 2004
A pathologist testifies that Virk's death was due to drowning. He also says that if Virk had not drowned, she may not have survived because of a serious head injury.
June 29, 2004
Glowatski, convicted of second-degree murder in Virk's death, denies killing her, but says he watched Ellard drown her. Ellard lawyer says Glowatski lied repeatedly in his initial statements to police and at his own trial.
June 16-22, 2004
In five days of testimony, several witnesses come forward to say Ellard admitted to killing to Virk.
- Witness says Ellard admitted to killing Reena Virk
- Another witness says Ellard admitted to killing teen
- More witnesses say Ellard admitted to killing teen
- More testimony ties Ellard to Virk murder
June 14, 2004
A second trial opens for Ellard, charged with second-degree murder in the swarming death of 14-year-old Reena Virk almost seven years earlier.
March 4, 2004
Ellard's bail is revoked a month after she is charged with assault causing bodily harm in connection with the beating of a 58-year-old woman in a Vancouver park. Ellard is ordered back into custody.
Feb. 4, 2003
The B.C. Court of Appeal orders a new trial for Ellard, now 21 years old. The court ruled the Crown failed to give her a fair trail by asking Ellard 18 times why witnesses would give false testimony against her. Ellard was testifying in her own defence. Ellard – freed on bail pending her appeal – had served 18 months of a life sentence for second-degree murder.
Nov. 29, 2001
Glowatski, the second teen to be convicted of second-degree murder in Virk's death, loses his appeal. The B.C. Court of Appeal rules Glowatski actively took part in Virk's killing.
Nov. 15, 2000
Virk's parents sue the teens arrested in connection with the attack on their daughter, the B.C. government and several others. "Society doesn't make people take responsibility for their actions. This is one way to make them responsible," Manjit Virk, Reena's father, said.
April 21, 2000
A judge rules Ellard must spend at least five years behind bars before she can apply for parole. Ellard was 15 when she was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The case was tried in adult court. Had she been 18 or older when she took part in Virk's killing, she would have had to serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole.
March 31, 2000
Ellard is convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Virk. The 17-year-old-girl is led from the courtroom before she can say good-bye to her parents, to begin serving a life sentence. Prosecutors had described Ellard as the most aggressive in the group of girls who attacked Virk. The defence portrayed Ellard as the victim of a conspiracy by a group of young girls who were out to protect themselves.
March 9, 2000
The second-degree murder trial of Ellard opens in Vancouver. It's the third trial connected to the killing of Virk.
June 18, 1999
Glowatski is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for seven years for second-degree murder in the death of Virk. Justice Malcolm MacAuley says Glowatski would have a better chance at participating in programs and receiving an education at the federal institution of Matsqui than he would at a youth facility.
June 2, 1999
Glowatski is convicted of second degree murder in the death of Virk.
May 13, 1999
The Supreme Court of Canada refuses to hear an appeal by Ellard's lawyers to have her case tried in youth court. She will be tried as an adult.
May 3, 1999
Glowatski admits he took part in the beating of Virk but insists he did not kill her.
April 12, 1999
Trial of Glowatski opens in Vancouver. He was 17 when he was accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Virk. The judge rules against a publication ban on the details of the case.
April to May 1998
Six girls — aged 14 to 16 — receive sentences ranging from 60 days conditional to one year in jail for their parts in the initial beating of Virk.
Feb. 13, 1998
Three teenaged girls are convicted of lesser charges of assault causing bodily harm.
Feb. 9, 1998
The first of the trials in beating and drowning of Virk opens in Vancouver. Three teenaged girls plead guilty to charges of assault causing bodily harm. Three other teenaged girls go to trial on charges of aggravated assault.
Nov. 22, 1997
Police divers find Virk's body in a shallow tidal pool, about one kilometre from where she was last beaten.
Nov. 21, 1997
Glowatski is arrested and charged with Virk's murder. Seven teenaged girls also face charges ranging from assault to murder.