SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A woman connected to the death of a two-year-old girl from eleven years ago was up for parole Wednesday at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
This time she was denied, but she had been out of prison once before.
In 2013, Laurie Cournoyer of Wagner pleaded guilty to being high on meth, sleeping pills and marijuana as Rielee Lovell, a two year old child in her care, lay dead in a bedroom closet on July 4th, 2012. The body was found about 24 hours later.
“I chose to put that needle in my vein. Now, for the rest of my life, I have to live with that choice I made,” Cournoyer said in 2013.
An 11-year-old boy in the Wagner home was sentenced for the actual killing of the toddler, but Cournoyer received a harsher sentence because prosecutors said her drug use created the conditions for the toddler’s death. An FBI agent had told Cournoyer to keep the boy away from the younger children because he had grown to be aggressive.
“I’m ready to stay off meth. I’m ready for change. I feel so bad that something like this had to happen to make me straighten myself out,” Cournoyer said in 2013.
Ten years ago, Cournoyer was sentenced to 22 years behind bars, however, in 2020 she was let out on parole. Just two years later, though, she was back in prison on more drug charges and an aggravated assault charge.
“There was a group of people that came towards us and they were trying to fight me and my boyfriend. I ended up pulling the knife out and at that moment I see red and pretty much I like blacked out,” Cournoyer said Wednesday.
She was sentenced on those charges back in September, but today she was once again in front of the parole board asking for a release from prison.
“I have made some poor decisions, obviously that’s why I ended up back in prison. And I can sit here and I can blame circumstance, mental health, all of this but I’m not going to. I’m just gonna accept full responsibility. I messed up,” Cournoyer said Wednesday.
Cournoyer was denied parole this time with one board member citing that the last time she was released it didn’t go well.
At the time of the two-year-old’s death in 2012, Cournoyer had been married to Taylor Cournoyer. He was also convicted of similar charges for using drugs at the time of the toddler’s death. He is still in prison with an expected release date in 2034.