Judge in­structs jury in Bab­cock case about ev­i­dence

Waterloo Region Record - - CANADA - Liam Casey

TORONTO — The mur­der case of a young woman whose body has not been found hinges upon a “large and com­plex” body of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence, a Toronto judge said Thurs­day as he in­structed the jury.

Laura Bab­cock, a trou­bled 23-year-old Toronto woman, van­ished five years ago.

Two men — Dellen Mil­lard and Mark Smich — are ac­cused of killing Bab­cock in July 2012 and burn­ing her body in an an­i­mal in­cin­er­a­tor.

Jus­tice Michael Code told jurors the cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence fo­cuses on two main is­sues: whether Bab­cock is dead and whether Mil­lard and Smich caused her death from an un­law­ful act.

Those are two key el­e­ments of mur­der, he said.

“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 pros­e­cu­tion al­leges Bab­cock was killed be­cause she was the odd woman out in a love tri­an­gle with Mil­lard and his girl­friend, Christina Noudga.

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

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

He sum­ma­rized seven key points of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that came up through­out the seven-week 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.

The judge quickly went through the ev­i­dence that came up dur­ing the trial and ex­pects to go through it thor­oughly again on Fri­day.

He noted the cell­phone data that puts Mil­lard’s phone in the same area as Bab­cock’s phone around 6:30 p.m. on July 3, 2012, both phones trav­el­ling to Mil­lard’s home where Smich’s phone was lo­cated.

Bab­cock’s last out­go­ing phone call oc­curred at 7:03 p.m. and her phone stopped con­nect­ing with cell tow­ers at 11:11 a.m. on July 4.

“Her friends and her fam­ily have never seen her again or heard from her again and they have never been able to con­tact her,” the judge said.

“These are crit­i­cal pieces of ev­i­dence.”

He also noted the hand­gun Mil­lard bought on July 2, al­though he said there is no ev­i­dence Mil­lard had am­mu­ni­tion for that gun, and Bab­cock’s iPad and bag that were found at Smich’s home. He noted her tran­sient life­style, liv­ing as an es­cort, her strug­gles with her men­tal health and co­caine use.

He spoke at length about the in­cin­er­a­tor, named The Elim­i­na­tor, that Mil­lard bought for $15,000 and out­fit­ted it on a trailer for about an­other $10,000. The pair dubbed the ma­chine “the BBQ.”

Code also spoke about a photo of a smil­ing Smich in front of the in­cin­er­a­tor.

“I’m sim­ply try­ing to make the point that there is a rel­a­tively large and com­plex body of cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence and you must as­sess it in its to­tal­ity,” Code said.

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.

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