Holding a photo of his nine-year-old daughter, who was drugged and killed by her mother in 2014, Duane Lucius told a Calgary court Friday that he misses his daughter’s hugs, thinks about her every day and will never forgive his ex-wife.
“I feel upset that someone could do something like this to a little, innocent girl,” Lucius said.
“I will never forgive her and never forget my daughter Amber.”
“Every day and every moment, I miss my children more than anyone will understand,” Coward told court at her sentencing hearing Friday.
“I want to say I’m responsible for my choices …. and that I plead for your mercy.”
Her sentencing date is set for Friday, March 10.
Second-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence, but the parole ineligibility period can range from 10 to 25 years.
Crown prosecutor Jillian Pawlow suggested Coward should have to spend 20 years in prison before she can be considered for parole. The Crown called the crime a “senseless and unimaginable nightmare.”
Coward was originally charged with first-degree murder and was scheduled to go to trial in February.
Amber was reported missing Aug. 31, 2014 and her mother was arrested two days later near Sundre, standing outside a vehicle where her daughter’s body was discovered.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Coward drove out to a rural property the night of Aug. 30, 2014 and gave her daughter a toxic but non-lethal amount of sleeping medication. Coward panicked, thinking she had killed her daughter, and proceeded to light the vehicle on fire with Amber unconscious inside.
Watch below: Insp. Garrett Woolsey gives an update on the investigation
Prior to Amber’s death, Coward and Lucius were embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings, in which custody was a contentious issue.
Lucius claimed in an affidavit that Coward had become irritable.
“She would anger easily and we would argue often,” he said.
The couple was married for three years and separated in October 2007.
Coward, who worked as an accountant, has an older daughter from a previous marriage.
Amber was set to begin Grade 4 in the close-knit town of Millet when she was killed.
Millet is located about 250 kilometres north of Calgary and 40 kilometres south of Edmonton.
Excerpt from a statement written by Amber’s father in September 2014:
I am devastated by the tragic loss of my innocent, sweet and lovely daughter. My heart is broken. The time I had with Amber was cut short but the time I had with her will always be the most special time of my life.
Amber’s death comes as a terrible shock to all those who had the honour of knowing her, including her family and friends. This loss is felt by our entire community.
Amber was lots of fun. A parent never knows when a child may be taken from them, so I urge you to make the time to have fun with your children, and never take them for granted.
I want to thank the community for all the support I have received since I got this terrible news.
– With files from Jenna Freeman, Global News