THE SMOKING GUN?
Crime expert says residue on pistol undermines Millard suicide theory
At his third murder trial, convicted killer Dellen Millard leans in from the prisoner’s box, closely following the testimony of a crime scene reconstruction expert who could be his undoing.
Unlike the bungling police officers who first came on the scene and bought the suicide story, Det.-Const. Grant Sutherland doesn’t believe the gunshot residue indicates that Millard’s father shot himself on Nov. 29, 2012.
From the way Wayne Millard was positioned on his blood-soaked bed, it would have taken a contortionist to hold the grip of the .32 calibre Smith and Wesson revolver practically upside down to shoot himself in the left eye. “I don’t believe that he did,” Sutherland told Crown attorney Jill Cameron of the suicide theory. If he didn’t shoot himself, then someone else pulled the trigger. And prosecutors argue that person is his own son, which would make the murderer of
Tim Bosma and Laura Babcock a triple killer. Millard, 32, has pleaded not guilty in the judge-alone trial before Justice Maureen Forestell. He’s currently serving two consecutive life sentences. In 2014, a year after Millard’s arrest for Bosma’s murder, Sutherland was called in by Toronto homicide detectives to revisit the suicide of the suspect’s father. Asked to review the scene photos and autopsy report, the expert with the firearms analysis and investigation unit said he noticed early on that there was something about the gunshot residue staining on the pillow that didn’t make sense.
Millard told police he found his 71-year-old father dead in the family’s Etobicoke home. The wealthy aviation scion was lying on his left side, his right hand tucked under his face, his left arm outstretched. The gun was found nearby on the floor.
Court has heard the younger Millard had purchased the Smith and Wesson several months earlier from gun dealer Matthew Ward Jackson and that his DNA was found on its grip.
Sutherland opened the evidence box and held up the small wood-handled revolver, explaining how the bullets discharge from the six-chamber cylinder and the blow back soot they leave behind.
If his father had shot himself with his left hand, as the original investigators had concluded, Sutherland said he would have expected to see the dark stain on the opposite side of the pillow from where it was. There also would have been gunshot residue on the senior Millard’s left hand
— but there was none.
At the Ontario Police College in November 2015, Sutherland ran a series of videotaped test fires to see what position it would take to end up with the same pattern of gunshot residue found on the dead man’s pillow. He used the same revolver found at the scene and a styrofoam head and mannequin arms to try to replicate Millard’s position when the muzzle had been placed at or very close to his left eye.
“Very few suicides are by gunshot to the eye,” Sutherland noted before defence lawyer Ravin Pillay stood to object. Pillay is expected to argue that none of this evidence should be considered by the judge.
The position of the revolver that most closely resulted in the same gunshot residue pattern had the gun on its left side, the barrel pointing toward the top of the pillow, he testified. It wasn’t impossible for Millard’s dad to have held it like that in his left hand, but it would be upside down, “very, very difficult” and “very unlikely.”
The prosecutor asked him to demonstrate.
By the end, the officer looked like a pretzel — and the Crown attorney’s point had been made.
Millard’s lawyer is set to cross-examine Sutherland on Friday.
A gun found at Wayne Millard’s house.