Mil­lard ap­pears to be en­joy­ing him­self

Toronto Star - - NEWS - Rosie DiManno

Dellen Mil­lard would have us be­lieve he is an ut­ter arsehole.

Which doesn’t take much con­vinc­ing, ac­tu­ally.

But bet­ter that than a cold-blooded killer, as the 31-year-old stands co-ac­cused — first-de­gree mur­der in the death of Laura Bab­cock, her re­mains burned in an in­dus­trial in­cin­er­a­tor.

The rich boy — court has heard about his sev­eral prop­er­ties, from a condo in the Dis­tillery Dis­trict to a farm near Kitch­ener to the hangar at Pear­son air­port for his pri­vate plane (sur­rounded by Cadil­lacs and town cars and vin­tage ve­hi­cles) — pre­sented him­self in court on Mon­day as an un­scrupu­lous play­boy and spend­thrift.

“I used to have quite a bit of money, didn’t I?” he asked Karo­line Shirinian, one-time best friend to Bab­cock and later align­ing her­self with a ro­man­tic ri­val, a young woman Mil­lard had been dat­ing for over a year at the time Bab­cock dis­ap­peared.

“That’s what I heard,” Shirinian re­sponded.

And she’d heard quite a lot in those months be­fore Bab­cock van­ished just af­ter Canada Day, 2012, from both women. Just as she’d seen — been a party to, on the girl­friend’s end, Christina Noudga — nasty emails zing­ing be­tween the fe­male prin­ci­pals, about who was sleep­ing with whom, notably Mil­lard, and when.

“It’s no se­cret I would sleep with other women when I was with Christina and I would tell her about it?” Yup. “I wasn’t too thought­ful when it came to Christina, I wasn’t too car­ing.” A state­ment, not a ques­tion.

Kept com­ing around to that same point.

“It was plainly ap­par­ent that I wasn’t thought­ful about Christina,” con­tin­ued Mil­lard, point­ing out he’d only bought her a neck­lace and a pair of ear­rings dur­ing their re­la­tion­ship, never even at­tended her 21st birthday party.

Shirinian: “Yes, and for some rea­son she still stuck around.”

It was com­mon knowl­edge, sug­gested Mil­lard, that he was sleep­ing with at least two other women dur­ing his ro­man­tic li­ai­son with Noudga, in­clud­ing a for­mer fi­ancée who was still stay­ing at one of his homes.

In­deed, there was that time — at what Mil­lard de­scribed as a “Jew party,” no fur­ther ex­pla­na­tion pro­vided — when Bab­cock had tried to hook her, Shirinian, up with him.

The wit­ness re­called it some­what dif­fer­ently. “You made a pass at me. You said some­thing that was in­ap­pro­pri­ate.”

Mil­lard: “Ob­vi­ously noth­ing ever hap­pened be­tween us?”

Shirinian, drip­ping with snark: “Ob­vi­ously.”

Since the wit­ness ad­mit­ted fol­low­ing news about Mil­lard’s ar­rest and the many back­ground sto­ries writ­ten about his char­ac­ter af­ter­wards, surely that cov­er­age would have af­fected her opinion of him, would it not, he in­quired.

“No, I dis­liked you be­fore you were ar­rested.”

Shirinian agreed that Mil­lard was aware of the bad blood be­tween Bab­cock and Noudga, es­pe­cially af­ter Bab­cock broke up with her own boyfriend around Christ­mas 2011. (Mil­lard and Bab­cock had briefly dated a cou­ple of years ear­lier.).

“And I didn’t seem to care too much about it, did I?” asked Mil­lard about the feud be­tween girl­friend past and girl­friend present. “No,” Shirinian said. The clear im­pli­ca­tion in this line of ques­tion­ing is that Mil­lard would not have been an­gry over Bab­cock re­veal­ing to Noudga, in Fe­bru­ary of 2012, that she’d had sex with him just a cou­ple of weeks pre­vi­ous. Cer­tainly not fu­ri­ous enough to mur­der her.

It is the pros­e­cu­tion’s the­ory that Mil­lard com­mit­ted the crime — with his close pal and co-ac­cused Mark Smich — af­ter Noudga com­plained that Bab­cock was tor­ment­ing her with that in­for­ma­tion. The jury has heard about texts Mil­lard sent Noudga in April 2012: “First I am go­ing to hurt her. Then I’ll make her leave.” And: “I will re­move her from our lives.”

Yet he was a sybaritic sin­gle man, a lousy boyfriend in his own es­ti­ma­tion, and didn’t give a toss about th­ese sim­mer­ing ten­sions.

Mil­lard asked all th­ese ques­tions in cross-ex­am­i­na­tion be­cause he is rep­re­sent­ing him­self at the trial be­fore Jus­tice Michael Code. Both Mil­lard and Smich, who does have a lawyer, have pleaded not guilty.

It’s rare, one might say fool­hardy, for a de­fen­dant to act as his own lawyer, par­tic­u­larly when the charge is mur­der. But Mil­lard ap­pears to be en­joy­ing him­self as the trial moved into a sec­ond week. He may not wear the robes — a char­coal jacket and jeans will have to suf­fice — but he’s cer­tainly as­sumed all the man­ner­isms and pos­tur­ing of a lawyer.

He leans with his el­bows against the lectern, pushes his pro­fes­so­rial horn-rimmed glasses up his nose, prac­ti­cally salaams bend­ing at the waist when the judge en­ters.

And he speaks the pedan­tic lingo. Such as when he di­rected Shirinian to the state­ment she’d given to po­lice dur­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Just read the page silently to your­self and then I’ll ask you a cou­ple of ques­tions.”

When the wit­ness had done so, he re­marked pleas­antly: “You’re a quick reader!”

At that point Mil­lard was try­ing to elicit that 23-year-old Bab­cock — who’d been work­ing for an es­cort agency in the months be­fore she dis­ap­peared — “knew enough other sketchy peo­ple to get her­self in trou­ble.”

Fur­ther, while Bab­cock and Shirinian had of­ten hung around his place, drink­ing and smok­ing weed, the wit­ness hadn’t ac­tu­ally seen much of Smich in his com­pany, isn’t that cor­rect?

Not so much, in that last year, Shirinian ac­knowl­edged.

Mil­lard — ap­par­ently try­ing to put distance be­tween him­self and Smich — im­plied that the co-ac­cused wasn’t a best buddy, as court has heard, and that his “wing­man” in those days was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent fel­low. Re­peat­edly, Mil­lard used “pros­ti­tute” and “pros­ti­tu­tion” when re­fer­ring to Bab­cock’s mon­ey­mak­ing ex­ploits and Shirinian, just as re­peat­edly, cor­rected him with “es­cort­ing.”

“There’s a lot of things about that line of work that a lot of peo­ple would find em­bar­rass­ing . . . dan­ger­ous,” sug­gested Mil­lard. “She was reck­less in the way she got into this line of work, wasn’t she?” Shirinian: “She was over-trust­ing.” With some ob­jec­tions from Crown at­tor­ney Jill Cameron, Mil­lard also crept up on hearsay ru­mours that Bab­cock had been seen alive af­ter July 3-4, when the pros­e­cu­tion be­lieves she was killed. “Did you tell po­lice that you think Laura is still out there?”

He re­framed the ques­tion. “Is there any ba­sis for be­liev­ing Miss Bab­cock is still alive?”

Shirinian: “I have none what­so­ever.”

The next wit­ness, Me­gan Orr, was emo­tional and tear­ful from the mo­ment she took the stand.

Orr tes­ti­fied that she’d be­come tight friends with Bab­cock in the last year of the vic­tim’s life and had been privy to the love tri­an­gle. “I know she had a lot of emo­tional is­sues go­ing on but I un­der­stood her. She was bub­bly, she was out­go­ing, she was amaz­ing.”

Bab­cock, she said, was get­ting her mar­i­juana from Mil­lard and the two were ex­chang­ing “dirty-talk­ing” texts. Mil­lard: “Dirty? Lewd? Sex­ual?” Orr: “If you say so.” She also re­called an in­ci­dent where Bab­cock told her she’d had sex with Mil­lard in the park­ing lot of Sher­way Gar­dens mall.

They “dis­con­nected” in March, 2012, to the ex­tent that Bab­cock “un­friended” her on Face­book, be­cause “I didn’t agree with the life­style she was liv­ing at the mo­ment, the es­cort­ing and the drug use.”

But be­fore the rup­ture — and they sub­se­quently rec­on­ciled — Orr had seen the catty text mes­sages ex­changed be­tween Bab­cock and Noudga. When Bab­cock told Mil­lard’s girl­friend she’d re­cently had sex with him, Noudga re­sponded with a “rude text,” said Orr.

“Did you miss your meds to­day? You’re a crazy psy­cho b----, you had him, you lost him, give it up.”

The trial con­tin­ues. Rosie DiManno usu­ally ap­pears Mon­day, Wed­nes­day, Fri­day and Satur­day.

Dellen Mil­lard, left, ac­cused with Mark Smich, cen­tre, is de­fend­ing him­self in the Laura Bab­cock mur­der trial.

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