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Laura Babcock murder trial jury to begin deliberations tomorrow

Justice Michael Code told the jurors at the Laura Babcock murder trial today that they will begin deliberations on a verdict starting Tuesday.

Judge continues marathon charge to jurors who will decide whether Dellen Millard, Mark Smich are guilty

Dellen Millard and Mark Smich are co-accused in the first-degree murder trial in the death of Toronto woman Laura Babcock. The trial is entering its final stages this week. (Court exhibit and Facebook)

Justice Michael Code told jurors at the Laura Babcock murder trial today that they will begin deliberations starting Tuesday.

The judge is almost at the end of his 300-page charge to the jury in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto. After a full day of instructing the jury on the case's evidence today, he said he will finish off the charge tomorrow morning.

Code began his charge last week. It's the last step of the seven-week trial, before the jury will be sequestered to deliberate on a verdict. 

Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Prosecutors believe Babcock, 23, was killed in early July 2012 and her body was later burned in an animal incinerator. No remains were ever recovered. Throughout the trial, the defence has suggested the Toronto woman may still be alive, or dead from an overdose or suicide.

Code's charge to the jury includes an overview of the trial's evidence, instructions on how to weigh testimony and the avenues by which a jury can reach different verdicts. 

On Monday, he stressed the importance of cellphone evidence in the case. The jury has previously heard Babcock's phone was tracked near her accused killers just before her disappearance.

"This is extremely important evidence in the case," he said.

The Crown contends a love triangle between Millard, Noudga and Babcock was the motive behind the Toronto woman's slaying. (Court exhibit)

The judge also read through several texts messages between Millard and Babcock, sent back and forth in the months before her disappearance. Many of them were flirtatious, or had sexual overtones.

"The Crown relies on this series of text messages, in this early time period, as background evidence to the alleged motive," Code said. "Mr. Millard relies on these texts for their friendly and flirtatious tone."

Millard and girlfriend compare Babcock to herpes

Code also made a point to highlight text messages between Millard, and his then-girlfriend Christina Noudga, about Babcock. In some of those messages, Millard compared Babcock to herpes.

"I fancy myself something of an undercover doctor. I think with the right treatment, these herpes can be gotten rid of," Millard said in a text message, adding: "I will remove her from our lives."

Last week, Code told the jury there three verdict options are available in the trial — first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and manslaughter — even though Millard and Smich both face a first-degree murder charge.

"If you have reasonable doubt as to whether Ms. Babcock is dead, then you would find both accused not guilty. You would proceed no further in your deliberations," Code said.

Planning and deliberation is key, judge says

However, if jurors believe Babcock is dead, then they will have to consider if Millard and Smich caused her death, and if they planned it.

That "planning and deliberation," Code said, is crucial to a finding of guilt in a case of first-degree murder.

The Crown alleges Laura Babcock was burned in this large animal incinerator after she was killed in July 2012. (Court exhibit)

The judge also laid out the Crown's positions on "who did what" in Babcock's death.

"The Crown submits that Mr. Millard was the principal who carried out the unlawful act that caused Ms. Babcock's death," Code said, citing the Crown's position that Millard had the alleged motive, bought the incinerator her body was allegedly burned in, got a gun, was in contact with Babcock, and appears to have met up with her on the night she died.

Smich, the Crown contends, was an "aider or abettor" who was at Millard's home when Babcock's death occurred.

For more in-depth coverage, read the recap of our live blog from inside the courtroom. On mobile? View it here

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter, CBC Hamilton

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Hamilton, Ont. home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.