The judicial pretrial for the two men accused of first-degree murder in the death of Ancaster, Ont., man Tim Bosma will start on Sept. 9.

That date was agreed upon in a Hamilton courtroom Friday afternoon. A pretrial is an opportunity for the lawyers of Dellen Millard, 28, and Mark Smich, 26 to meet with the crown attorneys in the case and a judge to discuss scheduling and other trial issues.

An eight-week preliminary hearing was scheduled to start in September, but a direct indictment in the case was consented to on Monday, skipping the hearing, the court was told Friday. That’s a rare move reserved for only the most serious cases.

Both Millard and Smich said little when they appeared by video in court. Millard has put on a little weight, and has grown a beard along with longer hair. He wore an orange jumpsuit and spoke only to confirm dates and times, and to tell the justice of the peace to “have a good day.”

Smich also wore a prison-issue orange jumpsuit when he appeared on the screen from the Toronto East Detention Centre. Millard is being kept in the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre.

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Dellen Millard, pictured, and Mark Smich are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tim Bosma, whose burned remains were found on a Waterloo, Ont.-area farm. (Facebook)

Smich’s lawyer Thomas Dungey told reporters after the appearance he had no comment on the case. Millard’s lawyer Deepak Paradkar was not in court.

Bosma’s parents and wife Sharlene were also in the courtroom, flanked by several supporters. They also declined to speak to reporters.

Bosma, 32, was last seen taking a test drive with two men in a truck he was selling online in May 2013.

His remains were found burned beyond recognition about a week later on a Waterloo-area farm owned by Millard.

Direct indictments like the one confirmed in this case are rare in Canada, but a recent example involved the case of Michael Rafferty, who was convicted in the kidnapping murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford of Woodstock, Ont.

Direct indictment decisions are made unilaterally by the prosecutors, and the defence has no ability to argue against it.

Under federal guidelines, direct indictments are permitted, among other factors, to:

  • Avoid multiple proceedings.
  • Protect the safety of witnesses and their families.
  • “Where the age, health or other circumstances relating to witnesses requires their evidence to be presented before the trial court as soon as possible.”

Millard also faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of his father, Wayne Millard. The elder Millard's death was originally ruled a suicide.

Millard and Smich are also charged with first-degree murder in the death of Laura Babcock, 23. The two are scheduled to be back in court to appear by video on Sept. 19.

Millard’s girlfriend Christina Noudga, 21, has also been charged with being an accessory after the fact in the Bosma case.