Holding a picture of the only child he’s ever had and a statement in the other, Duane Lucius said after the sentencing of his ex-wife that he misses his daughter every day.
“No sentence will do justice for what has happened to Amber,” he said. “As a child, I’ve 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.”
Laura Coward was given life in prison with no chance of parole for 18 years, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the 2014 death of her nine-year-old daughter Amber Lucius.
Coward gave her daughter a toxic, but non-lethal dose of Zopiclone sleeping pills and wrongfully thinking she had died, set the vehicle she was in on fire on an Alberta road near Sundre, with tools from her then-boyfriend’s residence.
Court heard how she attempted to cover up the crime, with the Crown submitting the primary motivation was revenge on Lucius after an ugly divorce and bitter custody battle that he had won.
“It’s closure to what happened to her, sort of, but I always think of her,” he said.
The Crown had asked 20 years for parole ineligibility, while the defence was seeking 10 to 12.
Despite Coward’s guilty plea and a tearful apology a week before, Lucius does not believe her.
“She wouldn’t be remorseful,” he said, adding his life since her death has been “pretty much hell.”
As Coward stood and wept in the prisoner’s box, Judge Scott Brooker called her act particularly heinous because of her relationship.
“(Coward) committed the ultimate betrayal and breach of trust for her to kill her own daughter,” Brooker said.
Court also heard how some members of the RCMP and other emergency personnel had to take leave because of the emotional toll the case has taken on them.
Crown prosecutor Mac Vomberg said in his 30-year-career, it stands out.
“This factually has been one of the most disturbing cases I’ve ever had to deal with,” he said. “The damage done to virtually everybody involved is widespread and very traumatic.”
Coward also has a teenage daughter from a previous marriage.
Defence lawyer Jim Lutz said his client is truly remorseful and was asked if he’ll appeal.
“The facts really speak for themselves and I think if you look at the range or cases, 16 to 18 years is not outside the range,” he said. “Unless something remarkable happens, I don’t see that happening.”