VANCOUVER—Almost two decades since an ostracized 14-year-old was swarmed, viciously beaten and then callously drowned near a Victoria bridge, Reena Virk’s most notorious killer is asking for release.
Kelly Ellard was 15 years old in November 1997 when she smashed Virk’s head against a tree and then held the Grade 9 student’s head underwater until she stopped moving.
Ellard is scheduled to attend her first day-parole hearing on Tuesday, seven years after the Supreme Court of Canada rejected an appeal of her second-degree murder conviction.
She has waived her right to a full parole hearing four times while serving her life sentence, but has remained eligible for day parole and applied for release several months ago.
Ahead of the hearing, Virk’s grandfather said the family no longer believes Ellard can redeem herself.
“If she had admitted (her role) and if she had told the truth, then it would have been much better for our conscious, our pain, our satisfaction,” said Mukand Pallan, 86, from his home in Victoria.
“The way she behaved, we’re very, very mad about it. It doesn’t seem right, she’s not a good girl, she doesn’t deserve any help.”
Members of the Virk family showed compassion for many years towards Ellard, three others girls convicted of assault and Warren Glowatski, who was also found guilty of second-degree murder in the teen’s death.
They no longer believe Ellard, now 33, will change but will trust the federal parole board to make the correct decision, Pallan said.
“It is very painful, but there’s nothing too much we can do about it anymore.”
Virk’s parents, Manjit and Suman, have taken a vacation in order to avoid media attention, Pallan added.
The attack focused a national spotlight on bullying and teen violence, particularly among girls.
The murder happened late in the evening after Virk joined a group of teens gathered outside a local school to drink and smoke pot. She was assaulted until bloody by several teens and then crossed a bridge, pleading to be left alone. Successive trials heard that Ellard and Glowatski followed.
During Ellard’s third trial, a pathologist testified Virk’s brain was swollen and she suffered at least 18 forceful blows to her body. She died from drowning and her body was found adrift in a local inlet.
Ellard was put on trial for murder as an adult.
A jury found her guilty during the first trial in 2000, but the verdict was overturned and a new trial ordered when the B.C. Court of Appeal determined the Crown had conducted cross-examination improperly.
She testified during her second trial in 2004, sobbing and insisting she “never crossed the bridge.” The jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Ellard didn’t testify during her third trial in 2005. She was convicted and then won an appeal, but Canada’s highest court rejected the case and restored the conviction.
She has run into other trouble since Virk’s death.
Ellard’s bail was revoked in 2004 while she was living in a halfway house awaiting trial. She was charged with assault causing bodily harm of an older woman in a New Westminster park. The charges were stayed after she was found guilty in the Virk trial.
Court documents in 2005 said Ellard was a belligerent and often abusive inmate, who had violent outbursts that included throwing food and kicking chairs.
She was portrayed as having a fragile mental state as a result of her prison time during her sentencing hearing.
At the time, her mother Susan Pakos said in a letter to the judge that her daughter “has suffered more publicly and privately than anyone can ever imagine.”
Her lawyer Peter Wilson described her as “a person everyone loves to hate.”
Should Ellard’s request for parole be granted, she would be placed under a release plan that includes a requirement she live in a halfway house, a parole official said.
A release plan usually includes a series of conditions attached to the parole board’s risk assessment, such as abstaining from intoxicants and avoiding criminally active peers.