Though there's no evidence of exactly how it happened, co-accused killers Dellen Millard and Mark Smich murdered Toronto woman Laura Babcock before incinerating her body to obliterate any trace of evidence, the Crown said today in closing statements in court.
Crown attorney Jill Cameron spent the afternoon taking the jury through what she alleges were Babcock's last days, in July of 2012. Babcock left electronic "footprints" everywhere, Cameron said, before she simply vanished without a trace on July 4.
No one knows if Babcock was shot, stabbed or strangled, Cameron said — but in the end, it doesn't matter.
"We don't need to know how Laura died to find them both guilty of first-degree murder," she told the jury.
Millard, 32, of Toronto and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have been charged with first-degree murder. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors believe Babcock, a 23-year-old university graduate who once worked at a toy store, was killed in early July 2012, before her body was later burned in an animal incinerator. No body was ever recovered.
Over the past two days, the jury has heard from the Crown, Smich's lawyer and Millard, who is representing himself. The closing arguments marked the final time all three parties could address the jury before jurors begin deliberations.
Throughout their closing arguments, both Millard and Smich's lawyer, Thomas Dungey, suggested that Babcock could have simply left the country, or died of a drug overdose, or suicide.
Cameron said that argument "defies all logic and common sense."
If she was still alive, Babcock's family and friends would have heard from her some time in the last several years, she said.
"Laura did not commit suicide or overdose. If she did, we would have her body," Cameron told jurors.
"They thought then, and they argue now, that no body equals no murder. And they are wrong. They may have successfully eliminated Laura's body, but what can't be eliminated is that mountain of evidence before you," Cameron said.
Previously, at the Laura Babcock murder trial:
- Day 20: 'We need to get our stories straight,' Millard wrote girlfriend
- Day 21: Millard skips opening statement, reads text messages
- Day 22: Animal bone expert struggles during testimony
- Day 23: Accused killers Millard and Smich won't testify
- Day 24: Millard says he had no motive to kill
The Crown contends that Babcock was killed at Millard's Toronto home, based on cellphone tower data. A mattress that Millard purchased as a rush order around that time also strengthens the case, Cameron said.
"I submit something catastrophic happened that rendered the mattress unusable," she said.
Smich's laywer calls Crown case 'fiction'
Before Cameron began her closing statements, Dungey told the jury the Crown's case against his client is full of holes and amounts to "fiction."
Dungey appeared before the jury in a much more animated fashion than previously seen in the trial, pointing and gesturing, with his voice booming throughout the courtroom.
"Is this a novel? Because it sure is fiction," Dungey said. "There's got to be some skin in the game here folks. There's got to be some substance."
Smich did not testify at the trial and chose not to present any evidence or call any witnesses in his defence. Dungey repeatedly told the jury that his client has that right.
"We don't have to put one iota of evidence before you," Dungey said. "We did not call evidence, because in our opinion, the Crown has not met the onus [of reasonable doubt]."
Much of the evidence heard at the trial has centred on Millard, though the jury has heard about Smich, as well.
On Wednesday, the Crown played a video of Smich rapping that was allegedly written just after Babcock's death:
The bitch started off all skin and bone
now the bitch lay on ashy stone
last time I saw her's outside the home
and if you go swimming you can find her phone.
After playing that video, Cameron began her closing statements by saying, "Laura Babcock started off all skin and bone."
She also showed jurors photos of Smich, standing in front of the incinerator purchased by Millard, smiling widely.
Dungey said that much of the testimony about his client's rap came from two former friends of Smich, who both had addiction issues. Therefore, he said, their testimony shouldn't be believed.
"Would you want your son convicted on that testimony?" Dungey shouted at the jury. "Would you convict your own family members on this evidence?"
In his closing arguments, Dungey said that Smich had absolutely nothing to do with the purchase of the incinerator — but the Crown maintained that's not the case. "He's part of the plan from start to finish," Cameron said.
During his closing address to the jury, Millard said his "open relationship" with then girlfriend Christina Noudga contradicted a Crown theory that he killed Babcock to get out of a love triangle.
Court has heard Millard and Babcock dated briefly, but were still sleeping together in the months before she disappeared.
Dungey repeatedly said Wednesday that Smich wasn't involved in any sort of love triangle. "Where does he fit in a love triangle?" Dungey said. "There is no evidence. None. Not an iota of evidence."
Among the hundreds, if not thousands of text messages presented in court, the jury saw several Millard sent to Noudga promising he would remove Babcock from their lives. In one text message exchange, Millard and Noudga compared Babcock to herpes.
What the jury hasn't seen, Dungey said, is any texts between Babcock and Smich. "Did you ever hear in one text message, my client involved with Laura Babcock?" Dungey asked, his voice rising throughout the courtroom. "No. Not one text message. Why? Because he's not involved in this so-called love triangle."
Throughout the trial, Millard has made it clear he was involved with a number of women at the same time.
Even Dungey, who made a point to say he wasn't representing Millard, said Millard would not have cared about Noudga's feelings.
"I'm not here trying to demean Mr. Millard. He did quite sufficiently his own job of demeaning his own character," Dungey said. "[But] does it strike you that he's the type of guy who is going to care a damn about Christina Noudga?"
Justice Code will begin his charge to the jury tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. The jury is expected to begin deliberations early next week.
For more in-depth coverage, follow a recap of our live blog from inside the courtroom here. On mobile? View it here.