National Post

‘Do you find me sketchy?’ accused asks

- Liam Casey

T ORONTO • A man accused of murdering a young Toronto woman who vanished five years ago got into a testy exchange in court Tuesday with the woman’s former boyfriend.

Dellen Millard, who is representi­ng himself in the first- degree murder trial, cross- examined Shawn Lerner, frequently questionin­g his recollecti­on of events that followed Laura Babcock’s disappeara­nce.

The Crown alleges Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, murdered the 23- year- old woman in the summer of 2012 and burned her remains in an incinerato­r.

Both have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Lerner has testified that he confronted Millard after Babcock went missing to ask about the woman’s final phone calls — all to Millard, according to phone records.

Lerner has repeatedly said that although it’s been five years since he met Millard at a coffee shop in Mississaug­a, his memory of what he called “probably the most important meeting” of his life is clear.

“Shawn, you don’t like me very much, do you?” Millard asked. “No,” Lerner responded. “Do you find me sketchy?” Millard asked. “Yes,” Lerner said. Court has heard Lerner spearheade­d the search for the missing woman in the summer of 2012. He said he also filed a complaint about Toronto police “fumbling” the missing person’s case.

He said he last heard from Babcock in a text on July 1, 2012, and says he filed a missing persons report with police two weeks after that text. The two broke up about six months before, but maintained a friendship.

The Crown c ontends Babcock was killed at Millard’s home for being the odd woman out in a love triangle and her remains were burned a few weeks later in an incinerato­r at his farm near Waterloo.

Millard spent much of his time testing Lerner’s memory, which focused on that meeting at a Starbucks in Mississaug­a. “I’m trying to get at your memory, your recollecti­on, sir, you told us you have an average memory,” Millard said.

“I’ ve been very explicit about my memory, this was a long time ago, but this was probably the most important meeting of my life and there are things I can remember clearly — and I remember that clearly,” Lerner said.

At that meeting, Millard denied having anything to do with Babcock’s disappeara­nce and also denied he had a sexual relationsh­ip with Babcock.

“I mentioned that she got into harder drugs, correct?” Millard asked.

“You mentioned cocaine specifical­ly,” Lerner said.

“Did I tell you she was looking for a place to stay?” Millard asked. “Yes,” Lerner said. “Did I tell you that I refused arranging a place to stay for her,” Millard asked. “Yes,” Lerner responded. Babcock’s body has never been found.

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