MANDEL: Dellen Millard and Mark Smich guilty of murdering Laura Babcock
More from Michele Mandel
December 16, 2017
December 16, 2017 2:27 PM EST
Dellen Millard (top right) and Mark Smich (bottom right) have been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Laura Babcock (left).
Justice at last for Laura Babcock.
Former friends and partners in crime, Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, have been found guilty in the murder of Laura Babcock — an aspiring actress missing for more than five years, her body never found.
The jury returned the verdict after four-and-a-half days of deliberation.
Her parents, who have attended every day of the trial, embraced in relief — as days went by, observers were increasingly worried the jury was having trouble convicting Millard, 32, and Smich, 30, on a case based on circumstantial evidence.
Clayton Babcock, right, stands next to his wife Linda as he reads a prepared statement outside court in Toronto on Saturday, December 16, 2017. Two men accused of killing a young Toronto woman and burning her body have been found guilty of first-degree murder. Dellen Millard and Mark Smich had pleaded not guilty to the charges related to the death of 23-year-old Laura Babcock, whose body has not been found. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
But these are their second convictions for a cold-blooded murder — and Crown attorney Jill Cameron is seeking consecutive life terms.
Justice Michael Code will ultimately decide on sentencing the repeat killers but the jury recommended Millard serve two consecutive life sentences — 50 years before parole — while they were divided on Smich.
With class and poise, as he and his wife Linda have exhibited throughout this trial, father Clayton Babcock faced the media after the verdict.
“We’ve sat through a six-week funeral for our daughter Laura. You all know what a wonderful woman she was as well as all the pains and struggles that she faced,” Babcock said.
“You also know about the evil beings that took her life and if society’s lucky, we will not see them again on the streets.”
So evil that Millard, acting as his own lawyer, seemed to enjoy his chance to cross-examine the grieving father of the woman he had murdered.
“Today was about justice for Laura and justice was served,” added Cameron, who led a brilliant Crown case against the two killers.
How relieved the jurors will be after learning what was kept from them: that Millard, an aviation heir, and his former best buddy, Smich, a drug dealer and aspiring rapper, are already serving life sentences for the senseless execution of Ancaster father Tim Bosma, murdered in May 2013 as he gave Millard and Smich a test drive of the truck he had listed for sale online.
Tim Bosma holds his daughter. The 32-year-old went missing from his Ancaster home after two men came to test drive his truck that was up for sale on May 6, 2013.
They’re appealing those convictions.
Millard also faces trial next March for the first-degree murder of his father.
Traces of Bosma’s remains were found in Millard’s animal incinerator hidden on his farm. The Eliminator was purchased just before Babcock went missing and it was used, according to the Crown, to burn her body on July 23, 2012 — the same day Smich wrote his infamous rap lyrics about a “b…ch” who turned to “ashy stone.”
The jury never heard about the Bosma murder during the Babcock trial so as not to prejudice their opinion of Millard and Smich.
The judge asked Bosma’s family not to attend, fearing their presence could jeopardize the publication ban, but after the jury began deliberating his parents arrived to lend support to the Babcocks as they awaited the verdict.
Babcock was their first murder victim.
She was lured to Millard’s Etobicoke home on July 3, 2012, at a time when she was struggling with mental health issues, fighting with her parents and had nowhere to sleep. Millard wanted her dead because she was complicating his love life — still infatuated with him after a short romance, she’d told his current girlfriend, Christina Noudga, that they were still sleeping together.
Christina Noudga (Postmedia Network files)
Millard had assured the jealous Noudga in texts from April 2012 that “first I am going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave.” In another, he promised he would “remove her from our lives.”
And so he did.
Supplied court exhibit image with the filename – eliminator – from the Dellen Millard and Mark Smich first-degree murder trial in the death of Laura Babcock.
In the spring of 2012, Millard and Smich exchanged a multitude of texts about obtaining an incinerator — first a homemade contraption that was a bust and then a commercial behemoth named The Eliminator from Georgia that set him back $15,000.
It wasn’t delivered until several days after Babcock was killed — in the meantime, her body was rolled in a blue plastic tarp stashed in Millard’s barn with a calendar entry on his iPhone to do a “smell check.”
Smich told him they’d need “bones” to test it; Millard announced on July 23, “ BBQ has run its warm up. It’s ready for meat.”
That day, Smich’s girlfriend Marlena Menenes testified she watched them try to hook up the incinerator at Millard’s farm but there was no electrical outlet. So they hauled The Eliminator to Millard’s nearby hangar at the Waterloo airport and plugged it in outside.
Then they actually photographed her bones burning inside and took an iPhone video of her ashes floating in the moonlight.
Babcock’s former boyfriend Shawn Lerner grew worried when she seemed to vanish — no one could reach her on the phone and she’d gone dark on social media — so he checked her phone bill and found that eight of her last calls had been to Millard.
He knew the “sketchy” rich boy as Babcock’s friend and had invited him to a birthday party he’d thrown her at Medieval Times the year before.
When Lerner reached out to Millard, he first avoided his texts and then agreed to meet in person to talk about it. In their brief conversation at a Mississauga coffee shop, Millard insisted he hadn’t seen Babcock, that she’d called looking for drugs and was mixed up with the wrong people.
Cellphone records told a different story: GPS signals showed the phones of both Millard and Babcock were together at Kipling station on the evening of July 3, 2012 and then at his Etobicoke home.
Millard told Lerner he should have “no reasonable expectation of finding her.”
He would know — he’d burned her body only days before.
MANDEL: Dellen Millard and Mark Smich guilty of Laura Babcock’s murder | Toronto Sun
Babcock family speaks out on murder trial verdict
More from Canadian Press
December 16, 2017
December 16, 2017 3:34 PM EST
Clayton Babcock, right, stands next to his wife Linda as he reads a prepared statement outside court in Toronto on Saturday, December 16, 2017. Two men accused of killing a young Toronto woman and burning her body have been found guilty of first-degree murder. Dellen Millard and Mark Smich had pleaded not guilty to the charges related to the death of 23-year-old Laura Babcock, whose body has not been found.Chris Young / THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — The father of a young Toronto woman whose killers were found guilty of first-degree murder on Saturday says that while justice has been done, the verdict doesn’t ease his family’s suffering.
Dellen Millard and Mark Smich were automatically sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years in the death of 23-year-old Laura Babcock, whose body has not been found.
“We’ve sat through a six-week funeral for our daughter Laura, and you all know what a wonderful woman she was, as well as all the pains and struggles that she faced. You also know about the evil beings that took her life, and if society’s lucky, we will not see them again on the streets,” said Clayton Babcock outside of court.
“Today’s verdict really brings us little joy. The loss of Laura is no easier today than when it was realized five years ago,” he added.
Babcock’s family and several jurors cried as the verdict was read out, amid quiet cheers from the courtroom.
The Crown alleged Babcock was killed in July 2012 because she had become the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend.
Prosecutors said Millard and Smich planned the murder for months and covered up their crime by burning Babcock’s body in an animal incinerator that was later found on Millard’s farm.
Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., said the Crown failed to prove that Babcock is dead.
The two men were convicted last year of killing Tim Bosma, a 32-year-old Ancaster, Ont., man who disappeared in May 2013 while trying to sell his pickup truck, and burning his body in Millard’s incinerator.
The pair was automatically sentenced to life imprisonment without a chance of parole for 25 years in Babock’s death.
All 12 jurors recommended consecutive sentences for Millard, while only five recommended that Smich receive the maximum parole ineligibility — the seven others made no recommendation.
Justice Michael Code told jurors the consecutive sentencing provision is new to the criminal code and said the final decision on sentencing rests with him, but he will consider their recommendations.
A sentencing hearing will likely take place sometime in the new year.
Babcock has not been heard from since July 2012. Earlier that year, she became involved in a feud with Millard’s girlfriend — Christina Noudga.
The animosity between the two women, who had been sleeping with Millard at the same time, hit its zenith in mid-April. That’s when Millard sent a text to Noudga that the Crown referred to time and again.
“First I’m going to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave,” read his message. “I will remove her from our lives.”
Millard told court he didn’t care much about his girlfriend, or her feud with Babcock. He said he was sleeping with other women at the time, and his messages to Noudga were simply an attempt to placate a jealous girlfriend.
Court heard that Babcock’s life began to unravel in the months leading up to her disappearance. Her friends testified that she was using cocaine and struggled with her mental health, but was hopeful about a recent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
She fell out with her family and became transient, bouncing from place to place with her small dog, Lacey. She couldn’t find work and in June 2012 began working as an escort.
A former boyfriend, Shawn Lerner, told court he put her up in a west-end hotel in late June for two nights and lent her his iPad to help her search for apartments.
On June 30, Babcock and Millard exchanged text messages, according to cellphone data police found on Millard’s computers. Two days later, Millard purchased a 32-calibre gun from Matthew Ward-Jackson, who testified at trial.
Cellphone data shows that on July 3, the Babcock and Millard met near the Kipling subway station around 6:30 p.m. Both their cellphone then moved to Millard’s house, where Smich’s phone pinged off a nearby cell tower.
Babcock’s last outgoing call was made to voicemail at 7:03 p.m. that same day. Her phone, a BlackBerry, has not been found.
On July 4, Millard sent Smich a photograph of a large object wrapped in a blue tarp. The Crown said it was Babcock’s body.
The iPad she borrowed from Lerner was connected to Millard’s computer on July 4. Police later found the iPad and Babcock’s red bag at Smich’s house.
On July 5, the incinerator, which Millard referred to as the “BBQ,” arrived at his hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.
Millard told people he was starting a mobile pet cremation business with his uncle, Robert Burns, who was a veterinarian. Burns testified that his nephew never asked him to launch such a business, and called the idea “absurd.”
On July 23 Millard wrote to Smich: “bbq has run its warm up, it’s ready for meat.”
Court saw photos of a smiling Smich in front of The Eliminator that night taken with Millard’s phone.
They also saw a photograph of objects inside the incinerator that two expert witnesses said were bones. However, due to the poor quality of the photo, they couldn’t say if they were human or animal bones.
In the early hours of July 24, a note was created on Smich’s iPad. It read:
“The bitch started off all skin and bone,
Now the bitch lay on some ash stone,
Last time I saw her was outside the home,
And if u go swimming u can find her phone”
Court also saw video of the rap by Smich, taken with Millard’s phone. Two witnesses said Smich performed the same song for them. Smich told them it wasn’t just a rap, but was, in fact, true.
Smich’s lawyer and Millard, who represented himself, said the Crown has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Babcock is dead.
Babcock family speaks out on murder trial verdict | Toronto Sun