'Crying all the time,' jury hears of Laura Babcock's struggles with mental health at murder trial

The jury heard a summary of Laura Babcock's mental health records as the trial into her murder continues in a Toronto courtroom. Friends have testified she was open about her struggles, but was never suicidal.

Dellen Millard and Mark Smich have both pleaded not guilty to 1st-degree murder

Laura Babcock disappeared from Toronto in 2012. Dellen Millard and Mark Smich have been charged with her murder. (Facebook)

A summary of Laura Babcock's mental health records, documents detailing multiple hospital stays and conversations she had with doctors and nurses, were read out loud as part of an agreed statement of fact in court Wednesday afternoon.

Crown attorney Jill Cameron faced jury members, seven men and seven women, as she read out the statement.

Babcock told health-care workers she had a history of anxiety and depression and had harmed herself. During one of her first documented hospital visits in August 2011, she told a nurse she was crying all the time.

She also talked about "an intense fear of death. A feeling that could last one day to months."

Babcock was 23 and in constant communication with her family and friends when she suddenly went silent in early July 2012.

The Crown alleges Babcock was killed by Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., on July 3, and they later burned her body in an animal incinerator.

Millard and Smich have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Today was the eighth day of their trial.

The jury heard about more than a dozen of Babcock's hospital visits that took place between Aug. 11, 2011, and April 29, 2012. The prosecution didn't present the actual records themselves, only an eight-page summary.

Friends have testified over the last week that Babcock, an intelligent University of Toronto graduate, was both bubbly and fun-loving, and also very open about her struggles with mental health.

Cameron has asked the same question of each friend: Was Babcock suicidal?

All were adamant as they answered, "No."

"When she got worked up and upset about things, she would say absurd things about suicide. But not actually mean it," Megan Orr, 29, told jury members Monday.

Jessica Trevors, who saw Babcock and her dog sitting in a park in the middle of the night and welcomed them into her home, said Babcock didn't mention suicide.

Court heard Trevors was one of the last people to see Babcock before she disappeared.

Trevors, who testified Tuesday, said Babcock only talked about her future.

"She wanted to have a school where she could teach people to act and dance," Trevors testified.

Pastry chef Jessica Trevors, 29, was thanked by Justice Michael Code Tuesday for being a Good Samaritan. She offered Babcock and her dog a place to stay for four days, at the end of June 2012. (Chris Dunseith/ CBC )

Escort boss testifies

Earlier Wednesday, Babcock's brief stint as an escort was once again under the microscope.

Two Toronto men, the owner of Last Minute Escorts and one of his drivers, took turns in the witness box. They're among the last people to see Babcock before she disappeared.

"She worked a couple of nights," testified Shlomo Abuhav, who ran the escorting service.

He told the jury Babcock worked one night for him in early June, then returned a few weeks later to work another night.

"She wanted to be an actress," he recalled, smiling. "Hollywood."

Abuhav told jury members on Babcock's first job, she broke one of his rules.

Co-accused Dellen Millard, right, who is acting as his own lawyer, entered this photo as an exhibit Monday to illustrate his relationship with friend Andrew Michalski. (Court exhibit)

After visiting a client, Babcock met with the service's driver and gave him the money she was paid — of about $260/hour, she'd get half.

Babcock told the driver she was going to take the subway home.

Instead, he testified, she went back to the client's home.

During cross-examination, Millard, who is acting as his own lawyer, fixated on this, asking about the dangers that could present.

"When they go on their own, they lose private security," Abuhav responded.

Millard, who started the trial with collar-length hair but now wears it shorter with a small pony tail on the right side, pressed Abuhav about the gap between Babcock's two jobs as an escort, suggesting she was escorting on her own.

The witness shrugged his shoulders, saying he had no idea what she was up to.

The last time he saw Babcock was after her second and final client with his agency.

Abuhav arrived at the escorting office in midtown Toronto to find Babcock sleeping, surrounded by a number of suitcases. Her small dog was with her.

Abuhav told her she couldn't stay. She called a taxi and left.

He wasn't aware she was missing until Linda Babcock, Laura's mother, called several weeks later.

"I told her the truth. She was [here] but I hadn't seen her," he testified.

Linda Babcock often walks into court with a group of supporters. They bring pillows to sit on the hard wooden benches in the front row of the public gallery. (Chris Dunseith/CBC)

'Excited for life'

Late Tuesday, one of Babcock's best friends, Stefan Blasiak, told the court Babcock was an "amazing girl" who was "excited for life" the last time they hung out.

He was one of the last people to see her before she disappeared.

Blasiak told the jury, as several friends have now also mentioned in the witness box, that he offered Babcock a place to crash. At the time, he lived at home with his parents who kept a strict no dog rule.

Babcock, who was always with her white Maltese Lacey, would stay just one night — July 1.

Blasiak said Babcock talked about going on a trip to Disneyland or Las Vegas. A perk of her new job working as an escort.

Something else was new too, he testified.

Babcock, who regularly smoked marijuana, had picked up a cocaine habit.

Still he describes their final time together as fun, and perfectly ordinary. They watched movies, and went out to eat.

The Crown played a brief video clip Blasiak captured of Babcock on her phone.

Court saw video of Laura Babcock, recorded by her friend Stefan Blasiak the last time they hung out on July 1, 2012. Blasiak said Babcock liked to meow in public and he wanted to show her how goofy she looked. He said his friend seemed happy and excited for life. 0:14

It's one of those inside jokes between friends, that you only understand if you were there, he explained. Babcock used to like to meow in public — just to get a laugh.

"I thought she looked goofy so I wanted to show her what she looked like to everyone else," Blasiak told the jury.

It's the first video court has seen of Babcock.

Her parents, Linda and Clayton, looked up at one of several large screens playing their daughter's image: blonde with big sunglasses, and a sheepish grin.

They smiled as they watched.

The trial continues Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

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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.