Canadian Laura Coward, who drugged her daughter and then put the child in a vehicle and set it on fire, has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
The 50-year-old mother’s sentence must reflect “society’s disgust and outrage,” Justice Scott Brooker said, according to the CBC.
In 2014, Coward, three days after her divorce from Duane Lucius was finalized, in which he was awarded full custody of their nine-year-old daughter Amber, took the child to a rural property. She then gave Amber a toxic but non-lethal dose of prescription sleeping pills she had stolen from a friend and set her SUV on fire with her daughter inside.
Coward reportedly thought Amber was dead before she placed her in the vehicle and lit it on fire with a propane torch, according to The Canadian Press.
A handwritten note found by a police officer on the SUV read: “Help me. It was an accident. Locked keys in.”
Amber’s body was found inside the SUV. She died from a combination of hypothermia, smoke inhalation, and carbon monoxide toxicity.
Coward was standing outside the burned vehicle when police took her into custody.
“Amber was completely vulnerable to and trusting of her mother,” Brooker said, according to the CBC. “It was the ultimate betrayal and breach of trust for Ms. Coward to kill her daughter.”
Coward was initially charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in February 2017.
“There’s no way you could ever put into numbers how significant the offense is,” defense lawyer Jim Lutz said after the sentence was handed down. “Everybody’s pretty broken up about this.”
Prosecutors Mac Vomberg and Jillian Pawlow had proposed a 20-year parole ineligibility for Coward, while Lutz asked for her to be eligible to apply for parole in 10 to 12 years. Brooker decided that Coward will not be eligible for parole for 18 years.
At her sentencing hearing last week, Coward begged the girl’s father and her own family and friends to forgive her.
“I want to say to the father, my family, friends that I’m responsible for my choices and I beg for their forgiveness and I plead for your mercy,” she told Brooker.
“I want to say to the father, my family, friends that I’m responsible for my choices and I beg for their forgiveness and I plead for your mercy.”
Lucius does not believe any sentence “will do justice for what has happened to Amber.”
“As a father, I have had to bury my child and nothing will bring her back. I can only hope that other children are not being used as bargaining chips in a divorce or used to hurt the other parent,” he said.
Coward is the appropriate name for this monster. There is nothing that can compare to what she did. Her actions were meant to inflict as much pain on Duane Lucius by taking away from him his only daughter. May she rot in Hell.
As reported by Opposing Views