Mother who drugged, burned daughter alive gets life

The unimaginable story of Laura Coward’s vengeful attack on her nine-year-old daughter has ended in an Edmonton court with the woman’s imprisonment for life. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month  Coward, 50, was motivated to commit her unspeakable conduct by a family court decision to limit her access to Amber Lucius to every second weekend. The child’s father, Duane Lucius, had custody of Amber at his farm near the town of Millet south of Edmonton. The divorce and custody hearing had heard that Lucius considered his estranged wife difficult and temperamental. On the night of August 30, 2014, shortly after custody was settled, Coward drugged Amber as they were in her pickup truck. She gave the girl the sleeping medication Zopiclone. Coward told court that she then thought that she had unintentionally killed Amber. But the child was alive. Coward set fire to the vehicle to cover up her act. The coroner found Amber died from smoke inhalation. At the sentencing hearing this week Coward begged for forgiveness. She addressed her family in the gallery. “I’m responsible for my choices … I beg for their forgiveness and I plea for your mercy.”