Accused killers Millard and Smich won't testify at Laura Babcock murder trial

After weeks of speculation over whether accused killer Dellen Millard would put himself in the witness box, the Toronto man who has been acting as his own lawyer confirmed in court Wednesday that he won't.

Family, friends haven't heard from the 23-year-old Toronto woman since early July 2012

Co-accused Dellen Millard and Mark Smich confirm they will not testify. The Laura Babcock murder trial moves into its final phases, with closing arguments expected to begin Dec. 5, in Toronto. (Court exhibit and Facebook)

After weeks of speculation over whether accused killer Dellen Millard would put himself in the witness box, the Toronto man who has been acting as his own lawyer confirmed in court Wednesday that he won't.

Millard rested his defence after just 2½ days of presenting evidence at the Laura Babcock murder trial.

The spotlight quickly shifted to co-accused Mark Smich, and his lawyer, Thomas Dungey, who informed the court Smich will also not testify  — and won't mount a defence at all.

"We've come to an end of the evidence,"Justice Michael Code told the jury in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto, telling them the trial now moves into its final phases — closing arguments and deliberations.

The Crown prosecutor contends Babcock was killed in early July 2012, her body then burned inside an animal incinerator. The court has heard the 23-year-old Toronto woman, who dreamed of becoming an actress, kept a large circle of friends. No one has heard from her since that summer and her body has never been found.

Both Smich, 30, of Oakville, and Millard, 32, have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

Laura Babcock, with her former boyfriend and close friend, Shawn Lerner. Lerner was instrumental in starting the search for Babcock in July 2012. (Facebook)

Final phases

Closing arguments will begin Tuesday, Dec. 5, with Millard scheduled to go first, followed by Smich's lawyer, and then the Crown.

"I've agreed to a fairly luxurious schedule, not one I would do normally," Code told the jury, explaining not only is there six weeks of testimony to review, but it's complex.

The jury has seen a lot of circumstantial evidence, including photos of an animal incinerator and handgun Millard bought before Babcock's disappearance. An intelligence analyst with Toronto police also testified Babcock's phone was tracked in the same area as phones belonging to Millard and Smich, before it stopped connecting with cell towers altogether.

Brief defence

During his brief defence, Millard called a man who thought he spotted Babcock in October 2012, months after she was reported missing. When cross-examined by the Crown, and shown a photo of Babcock, the witness did not recognize her.

Before resting his case Wednesday afternoon, Millard read two admissions to the court, including one about the handgun he bought. It stated when the gun was sold, there was no ammunition in it.

The handgun Dellen Millard bought days before Laura Babcock vanished in early July 2012. (Court exhibit )

Incinerator was 'on the books'

On Tuesday, Millard called his family's bookkeeper, Lisa Williams, a woman he's known since he was 15, to testify.

Millard presented Williams with invoices for the incinerator, which was purchased for more than $15,000. Handwriting on the invoice said "paid" and showed a $5,000 deposit that was put on a Visa card. Williams said the writing belonged to Millard's late father, Wayne, who died on Nov. 29, 2012.

Millard asked Williams, "We've heard a lot about the incinerator in this trial. Was it on the company books?"

This photo of Mark Smich standing in front of an animal incinerator was taken the night the prosecution argues Babcock's body was cremated. (Court exhibit)

She answered it was, though she couldn't say which account was used to cover the cost.

The Toronto court has heard, through several other previous witnesses, that Millard had multiple plans for the incinerator: to burn garbage, dispose of deer on his farm, and to start a mobile pet cremation business with his uncle — something his uncle fiercely refuted.

'I simply entered the invoices'

During cross-examination, Crown attorney Ken Lockhart pointed out that the invoice for the incinerator showed it was purchased by Millard Air.

"You saw a receipt for a cremator. Did it have anything to do with the maintenance and repair of aircrafts?" Lockhart asked Williams.

The witness said she didn't question why the machine was purchased. "I simply entered invoices."

Lockhart pressed the bookkeeper — who admitted she's still on the Millard family payroll, though she said in a diminished capacity — "You never said 'Dell, why do you need a $20,000 cremator?'"

"I'm going to suggest you never saw any business document that had anything to do with pet cremation," Lockhart said.

"Not that I recall," Williams responded.

The trial resumes Tuesday, Dec. 5.

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About the Author

Shannon Martin

Reporter, CBC Toronto

Shannon is an award-winning reporter with CBC Toronto. She was part of the core team that launched "No Fixed Address", a hugely popular series on millenials renting and buying in Toronto. In 2016, Shannon hosted a special live broadcast on-air and on Facebook simultaneously from Toronto Pride, which won top honours in the Digital category at the RTDNA awards. Contact Shannon: shannon.martin@cbc.ca or find her on Instagram at @ShannonMartinTV.