Crown wants up to six years in prison for Lake Echo woman who killed man while impaired

Metro Halifax
Published on August 28, 2014
Kyla MacLellan is surrounded by supporters as she leaves Dartmouth provincial court on Wednesday.
Metro Halifax/Patrick McKenna

HALIFAX - Andrea Burnett feels the recommended five-to-six year prison sentence for the woman charged with killing her husband in an impaired driving accident last summer is unjust.

“To me, when someone pleads guilty to a charge that’s 25 to life, they should have to do a minimum 25 years,” she told reporters, sobbing outside the Dartmouth courtroom Wednesday following an emotional sentencing hearing.

Kyla MacLellan, who is from Lake Echo, was found guilty of impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm, following a head-on collision that killed 55-year-old Mark Burnett near Lawrencetown beach last year. A passenger in the car with the accused was also injured.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the Crown recommended a five to six year prison sentence for MacLellan, while the defence asked for three to five years given her age and clean criminal record.

The Crown also recommended MacLellan serve an additional three to four years for the injuries sustained by her passenger, Danielle Drake.

In an agreed statement of facts read by the Crown, Drake said MacLellan had driven her home around 4:30 a.m after they had been drinking at a bonfire. She said MacLellan had stayed at her apartment for around an hour, then the pair got back into the car and MacLellan continued driving.

The Crown said MacLellan was found to have blood alcohol level of .08 at the time of the crash, and told the court that an off-duty police officer who witnessed the accident determined she was travelling at a speed excessive of 100 km/h.

At one point in the hearing, MacLellan apologized to the Burnett family before the packed courtroom, saying “I take full responsibility,” and “there is nothing I can say that makes anything better,” choking back tears.

“I don’t believe her. I’ve not seen her (show) remorse at all. Those were crocodile tears, I’m sorry,” Burnett’s wife said outside court afterwards.

The defence told the courtroom MacLellan deserves a “balanced” sentence, that weighs her crime equally with a chance at rehabilitation later in life.

“It shouldn’t matter if she’s 16 or 99. That should not come into effect … At this point in time, with no tolerance policies, there shouldn’t be, ‘Oh, I made a mistake,” Burnett told reporters.

“Does it mean because she’s 21 and my husband was 55 that her life was more important?”

Judge Alanna Murphy told the court she needed more time to deliberate and adjourned the sentencing to Sept. 4 at 1:30 p.m.