Jury at Laura Babcock trial now deliberating on a verdict
Jurors tasked with determining whether Dellen Millard and Mark Smich are guilty or not guilty
The fates of accused killers Dellen Millard and Mark Smich are now in the hands of the jury at the Laura Babcock murder trial in Toronto.
After seven weeks of testimony and a marathon three-day charge to the jury in Ontario Superior Court, jury members are now sequestered behind closed doors.
"Remember you are judges, you are not advocates for one side or another," Justice Michael Code told them before they exited the courtroom.
"If you approach your deliberations calmly, putting forward your views politely and listening closely to the views of others, you will be able to arrive at a just and proper verdict."
- What the jury didn't hear at the Laura Babcock murder trial
- A timeline of the Crown's case
- Read CBC News's full coverage of the Babcock murder trial
Babcock was 23 when she disappeared in early July 2012. The University of Toronto graduate, who dreamed of becoming an actress, hasn't touched her phone, bank, and social media accounts since. None of her family and friends have heard from her.
Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have both pleaded not guilty. Millard, who is acting as his own lawyer, and Smich's lawyer both suggested Babcock may have "disappeared by choice."
8 possible verdict options
Code explained this morning the jury has eight possible verdict options: guilty or not guilty to first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter, or not guilty on all charges.
He stressed jurors do not have to agree on the same facts, but told them, "each of you must be persuaded that it has been proved on one factual basis or another, beyond a reasonable doubt, before you can convict that accused."
Code also reminded them the verdicts can be different for Millard and Smich, and to view each of them separately.
Both accused have also argued Babcock could very well be dead, by overdose or suicide.
The Crown has argued that if that was the case, Babcock's body would have been found. Instead, prosecutors argued Babcock was murdered, and her body later burned inside an animal incinerator.
Previously, at the Laura Babcock murder trial:
- Day 1: 'Are you nervous?' Millard questions Babcock's father
- Day 24: Millard says he had no motive to kill
- Day 25: Babcock didn't disappear, she was murdered, Crown says
- Day 26: Crown's case mostly circumstantial, judge says
- Day 27: Judge lays out manslaughter, murder verdict options for jury
- Day 28: Jury to begin deliberations tomorrow
Read CBC News's full coverage as the trial continues.
Planning and deliberation
On Monday, Code said if jurors believe Babcock is dead, then they will have to consider if Millard and Smich caused her death, and if they planned it — planning and deliberation, he added, are crucial to a finding of guilt in a case of first-degree murder.
Since the trial began on Oct. 23, the Crown put forward its theory that Millard and Smich conspired for months to kill Babcock, to undo a love triangle.
Babcock and Millard dated briefly, and, court heard, continued to have sex before she disappeared.
Text messages Millard sent to his girlfriend at the time, Christina Noudga, seem to suggest Babcock was a problem he promised to get rid of.
During closing addresses, Crown attorney Jill Cameron told the jury, "if you still have any doubt Laura Babcock died on July 3, remember both Smich and Millard tell us so."
"When they did that, neither had been arrested for her murder. How did they know she was dead? Because they were there," Cameron said.
Before sending the jury off, Code dismissed two members who have been part of the trial since the beginning.
Fourteen members — seven men and seven women — have listened to all the evidence, but only 12 are now deliberating. Two spots were alternates, in case someone fell sick or had a death in the family.
A court registrar drew two jury numbers randomly, and sent them home.
Code said while it may seem harsh, they contributed greatly to the trial. "You have provided us with the security for the last six to eight weeks of knowing that when the jury retires, the jury will retire as 12."
"My sincere gratitude to you," he added.
For more in-depth coverage, follow our live blog from inside the courtroom here. On mobile? View it here.