Bab­cock trial video shows in­cin­er­a­tor burn­ing

Toronto Star - - NEWS - Rosie DiManno

It’s the dead of night. The dead. Of night. Inky black, but for red-hot wisps of em­bers, spark­ing and drift­ing. Some­thing burn­ing.

We see the scene first, il­lu­mi­nated by light cast from a lamp post in the near dis­tance, framed in an open door­way. Some­thing . . . burn­ing. Al­legedly, the re­mains of Laura Bab­cock. Be­ing con­sumed in “The Elim­i­na­tor.”

Hell, it must be, for her par­ents, sit­ting in the front row of the court­room. But they scarcely flinch. They are stoic. Though Clay­ton Bab­cock brought his hand to his mouth, as if sti­fling a silent gasp as the glow­ing wisps wafted.

It has been five and a half years since they lost her.

What­ever was left of the vi­va­cious 23-year-old was never found.

The Elim­i­na­tor is an ob­long in­cin­er­a­tor, in shape re­sem­bling an os­suary, what would nor­mally be used to dis­pose of an­i­mal car­casses, con­nected to a gen­er­a­tor and propane tank, fit­ted with pip­ing.

A com­mer­cial model, re­place­ment for the handy­man ver­sion that had been as­sem­bled by a me­chanic friend, but found un­fit for the pur­ported task upon test­ing.

At the first-de­gree mur­der trial of Dellen Mil­lard and Mark Smich — both have pleaded not guilty — the pros­e­cu­tion did not come out on Thurs­day and bluntly state what it al­leges is oc­cur­ring in this video footage: that a hu­man be­ing, ap­par­ently dead for some three weeks at that point, is be­ing con­signed to flames, in­side a han­gar owned by Mil­lard, in a do-it-your­self cre­ma­tion.

Upon its de­liv­ery, Mil­lard strug­gled to make the ap­pa­ra­tus op­er­a­tional, fret­ting over the amount of propane re­quired for a “2-hour burn.”

On­line, Mil­lard had searched for the an­swer to a ques­tion: What tem­per­a­ture is cre­ma­tion done at?

In a cal­en­dar event re­minder to him­self, he’d noted: “Barn smell check.”

Smell of burn­ing re­mains? Smell of a de­cay­ing corpse? The pros­e­cu­tion can only spec­u­late and the ju­rors must con­nect the dots.

But the in­fer­ences are all there to be drawn and have been since the Crown’s open­ing ad­dress last month. It doesn’t need blud­geon­ing for the jury to grasp, al­though the nar­ra­tive yes­ter­day, in what amounted to an ex­po­si­tion de­liv- ered by a spe­cial­ist with the OPP tech­ni­cal crime unit, via hun­dreds of texts and mes­sages, buf­feted with still pho­to­graphs and video, was of­ten dis­jointed, a chal­lenge to fol­low in its specifics, the tor­rent of in­for­ma­tion spewed out on phones and re­trieved from a lap­top com­puter seized by po­lice at Mil­lard’s farm near Kitch­ener.

This is what Mil­lard, ac­cord­ing to re­cov­ered phone texts, had writ­ten to Smich sev­eral hours ear­lier be- fore the al­leged burn­ing, on July 23, 2012: “Bbq has run its warm up, it’s ready for meat.”

A few hours later, an im­age showed a dog sit­ting be­side an ob­ject wrapped in a long blue tarp. GPS co-or­di­nates in­di­cated that photo was taken at Mil­lard’s farm.

At 7.30 p.m., July 23, Mil­lard texted Smich: “I’m on a mis­sion, back in 1 hr.”

The afore­men­tioned me­chanic had mes­saged Mil­lard on the same day: “Elim­i­na­tor is elim­i­nat­ing. Then you have the gen­er­a­tor for the BBQ?”

Ear­lier, upon Mil­lard’s pur­chase of the $15,000 in­cin­er­a­tor, Smich had joked: “Dells an­i­mal cooker and chicken wings!”

Now, here is Smich pos­ing in front of The Elim­i­na­tor, hold­ing a long pole, look­ing like a sa­fari hunter stand­ing proudly with his tro­phy prey.

And here is Smich again, rap­ping a song the pros­e­cu­tion says was writ­ten on that same lap­top, which had been in Bab­cock’s pos­ses­sion in the days be­fore she van­ished just after Canada Day, hence­forth dubbed “Mark’s iPad,” within an hour of the pos­ing pho­to­graphs be­ing taken.

The lyrics: The bitch started off all skin and bone/now the bitch lay on some ashy stone/last time I saw her’s out­side the home/and if you go swim­ming you can find her phone.

Bab­cock’s phone, on which the last eight texts ever sent from the de­vice were to Mil­lard.

The rap video, which has been seen by the jury in snip­pets, was for­mally filed as ev­i­dence, fi­nally, at its com­plete length yes­ter­day by Crown At­tor­ney Ken Lock­hart. The “per­for­mance” was recorded in Septem­ber, nearly two months later.

Smich flat­ten­ing and flex­ing his fin­gers in rap style, has all the ges­tures down pat, ex­cept he still looks and sounds like a silly white guy mim­ick­ing.

In the wee hours of July 24, after Bab­cock had al­legedly been torched — the pros­e­cu­tion be­lieves she’d been mur­dered on July 3-4 — Mil­lard and Smich were mes­sag­ing each other.

Mil­lard says, “good­night bro.” Smich: “Run wars still?” What­ever that means. Mil­lard re­sponds: “Nah, sleep for me.”

More than 2,000 files — files within files, most deleted but re­cov­ered by the spe­cial­ist, re­cently re­tired OPP de­tec­tive-sergeant Jim Fal­coner — com­prise a bulk of the in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence against the two de­fen­dants, with Mil­lard, once upon a time a filthy rich heir to an avi­a­tion for­tune, rep­re­sent­ing him­self. Jaun­tily play­ing at Perry Ma­son, or CSI, such as when, in cross-ex­am­i­na­tion yes­ter­day, he brought the jury’s at­ten­tion to the close-up of an im­age — it ap­peared to be him — caught in the re­flec­tion of a woman’s sun­glasses, al­though to what pur­pose was un­clear.

Ex­cept that Mil­lard pre­sented it as an AHA! mo­ment, a teensy de­tail that he’d win­nowed out from the mounds of ev­i­dence just en­tered by Lock­hart. (Over two days, Lock­hart had shown ju­rors a broad cross­sec­tion of im­ages and texts, me­thod­i­cally pick­ing and choos­ing from a vast cast of char­ac­ters and con­ver­sa­tions.)

The pros­e­cu­tion al­leges that Bab­cock was killed by Mil­lard, with Smich serv­ing as his ac­com­plice-wing­man, be­cause she was the odd woman out in a three-way ro­man­tic en­tan­gle­ment, the ex-girl­friend whose boasts of con­tin­u­ing sex with Mil­lard had so ag­gra­vated his cur­rent girl­friend, Christina Noudga.

Yet, on June 9, when Bab­cock was still very much alive, if emo­tion­ally hang­ing by a thread, Mil­lard sounded very much like a man try­ing to put a whole lot of gone be­tween him­self and Nougda.

“Look, I’m not call­ing you my gf any­more so find the right per­son(s) to make you feel wanted. I’ll do the same.” Rosie DiManno usu­ally ap­pears Mon­day, Wed­nes­day, Fri­day and Satur­day.

Now, here is Smich pos­ing in front of The Elim­i­na­tor, hold­ing a long pole, look­ing like a sa­fari hunter stand­ing proudly with his tro­phy prey

ON­TARIO COURTS/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A photo of an in­cin­er­a­tor, dubbed “The Elim­i­na­tor,” was found dur­ing foren­sic anal­y­sis of com­put­ers seized from Dellen Mil­lard’s home.

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