Judge in­structs jury in deal­ing with cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence in the Toronto mur­der case

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - LIAM CASEY

TORONTO — The judge at the trial of two men ac­cused of killing a young Toronto woman five years ago and then burn­ing her body is in­struct­ing the jury on how to deal with cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence.

Jus­tice Michael Code be­gan his 300-page charge to the jury this morn­ing in the first-de­gree mur­der trial of Dellen Mil­lard and Mark Smich in the pre­sumed death of 23year-old Laura Bab­cock, whose body has not been found.

The judge says the case hinges upon a “large and com­plex” body of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence about two main is­sues: whether Bab­cock is dead and whether Mil­lard and Smich caused her death from an un­law­ful act.

The pros­e­cu­tion al­leges Bab­cock was killed in the sum­mer of 2012 af­ter be­com­ing the odd woman out in a love tri­an­gle with Mil­lard and his girl­friend, Christina Noudga.

Mil­lard, 32, of Toronto and Smich, 30, of Oakville, have pleaded not guilty and both have said the Crown has not proved that Bab­cock is dead.

The judge told the jury his in­struc­tion will last mul­ti­ple days be­fore they can be­gin de­lib­er­at­ing.

“Facts may be proved by cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence,” Code said.

“It is all about in­fer­ence draw­ing. You ob­serve some fact and from that fact you draw an in­fer­ence or con­clu­sion.”

The judge ham­mered home the point mul­ti­ple times Thurs­day that cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence must be looked in to­tal­ity, not each piece of ev­i­dence in iso­la­tion.

He sum­ma­rized seven key points of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that came up through­out the sev­en­week trial: mo­tive, op­por­tu­nity, ev­i­dence of the in­cin­er­a­tor and Mil­lard’s hand­gun pur­chase, Bab­cock’s dis­ap­pear­ance, her risky life­style, the use of the in­cin­er­a­tor on July 23, 2012, and state­ments made by Mil­lard and Smich af­ter the Toronto woman dis­ap­peared.

In its clos­ing ad­dress on Wed­nes­day, the Crown said a “moun­tain” of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence points to Mil­lard and Smich killing Bab­cock at Mil­lard’s home some time af­ter 8 p.m. on July 3, 2012 and then dis­pos­ing of her body at Mil­lard’s farm in Water­loo Re­gion.

Smich’s lawyer told the jury on Wed­nes­day that his client had no mo­tive to kill Bab­cock be­cause he was never part of a love tri­an­gle and all the Crown has is a rap song in which Smich says he killed a girl and burned her body.

Mil­lard, who is rep­re­sent­ing him­self, told the jury in his clos­ing ad­dress ear­lier this week that sev­eral wit­nesses tes­ti­fied to hav­ing seen or heard from Bab­cock af­ter July 4, 2012.

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