Laura Babcock was involved in a love triangle prior to her 2012 disappearance, text messages introduced at the trial of two men accused of killing the Toronto woman reveal.
The latest revelations came from one of Babcock's best friends, Megan Orr, 29, who now lives in the United States but flew back to Toronto to testify at the trial of Dellen Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., who have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Babcock has not been seen since early July 2012, and her body has never been found. Earlier in the trial, prosecutors told the jury that their theory is Babcock was killed and her body burned in an animal incinerator.
The Crown has suggested that the slaying of Babcock was possibly motivated by a love triangle, involving Millard and his girlfriend at the time, Christina Noudga.
Babcock was also romantically linked to Millard on and off.
The trial, being held in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto, is now in its second week.
Orr told the jury she was at the home of Babcock's parents in Etobicoke, in the west end of Toronto, when her friend burst into tears after reading a text. Orr testified that she ushered her friend outside to get some fresh air.
It was Feb. 12, 2012 — Babcock's 23rd birthday.
Court heard the beginning of a nasty text exchange on Friday, through another witness who was friends with Babcock and Noudga, Karoline Shirinian.
Previously, at the Laura Babcock murder trial:
- Day 1: 'Are you nervous?' Millard questions Babcock's father
- Day 2: Millard questions Babcock's ex-boyfriend
- Day 3: Smich admitted to burning a body, friend tells trial
- Day 4: Smich's friend breaks down in witness box
- Day 5: Court hears of love triangle and 'catty' texting war
Read CBC News's full coverage as the trial continues.
Shirinian testified she and Noudga, who she is still best friends with, thought it would be funny to send a catty message to the birthday girl.
Noudga crafted the text to Babcock, Shirinian said. It read: "Happy birthday. A year ago today was the first time I slept with Dellen."
Shirinian told the jury Babcock fired back: "That's fine, I slept with him a couple of weeks ago."
Orr revealed one final message today to the jury.
Noudga's response read: "Did you miss your medication today? You're a crazy psycho bitch just trying to get my boyfriend. You had him and you lost him. Give it up."
The bad boyfriend
That love triangle, and the complexities of who was sleeping with who, and when, have dominated much of the testimony.
Millard is acting as his own lawyer and cross-examined Shirinian Monday morning.
At times his questioning seemed erratic, but he appeared determined to establish himself as a bad boyfriend.
He told the jury Monday he slept with multiple women, not just Babcock, while dating Noudga.
Shirinian said she was aware Millard had slept with a stripper during a trip he took to Mexico in 2011. She said it was also well known he was carrying on a sexual affair with his ex-fiancée.
Shirinian told jury members Noudga also knew what Millard was up to, but "for some reason she stuck around."
During opening statements, Crown attorney Jill Cameron told the jury Babcock was a problem Millard promised Noudga he would take care of.
"First I am going to hurt her. Then I'll make her leave. I will remove her from our lives," read a text message Millard sent to Noudga in April 2012.
Millard pressed Shirinian about the bad blood between Noudga and Babcock — saying the two women were always bickering.
Millard added, "And I didn't seem to care too much about it." Shirinian just shrugged.
Millard then picked at Shirinian's own falling out with Babcock.
The two women met while working at a toy store in downtown Toronto, and were close friends until there was some kind of disagreement.
"Mean would be an understatement," Shirinian said, referring to Babcock.
In one of two statements to police, Shirinian called Babcock "evil" — something she clarified in court.
"She knew the right buttons to press to really upset [people]," she testified.
Millard added his own observation, calling Babcock manipulative, suggesting she would blackmail people about whatever she was obsessing with at the moment.
"She would do anything to get what she wanted?" he asked Shirinian.
"Only when she was off her meds," Shirinian replied.
'An amazing girl'
Orr too had disconnected with Babcock, but not because of a falling out.
She testified she was increasingly concerned about the path her friend was going down, including heavier drug use and escorting.
The two became fast friends when they met in 2011, Orr told the jury.
"She was an amazing girl. She had a lot of emotional issues, but I understood her," Orr said, having to pause for a moment as she cried.
"She was bubbly, she was outgoing, she was amazing."
But in the spring of 2012, Babcock seemed to be on a downward spiral, Orr testified.
She argued with her parents about wanting to stay out late and the curfews they imposed.
"Her parents really cared about Laura. They were only strict because they wanted the best for her," Orr said, as she continued to sob.
Linda and Clayton Babcock, who every day of the trial have sat in the front row of the public gallery, also teared up. A friend passed them some Kleenex.
Orr said Babcock talked about suicide when things got especially tough, but told jury members Babcock would never take her own life.
Escorting brought a new strain to their friendship. Orr said she pulled back, no longer hanging out with Babcock in person, but they continued to communicate every day by phone and text.
Orr said Babcock wasn't ashamed about escorting, and was quite open about enjoying the attention and money she was making. She even asked Orr if she'd be interested in trying it out.
"I said absolutely not — just be safe."
When it was Millard's turn to question Orr, he asked if Babcock ever mentioned him.
"All the time," Orr replied.
For the most part, Orr said, Babcock gushed about Millard. She found him attractive and showed Orr dirty text messages the two continued to share, while he was dating Noudga.
But after Noudga found out Babcock and Millard were sleeping together, Orr said things changed.
"It got heated up and you guys stopped talking," she testified.
Orr told court the last time she spoke with Babcock in early July 2012, Babcock seemed happy. She told her friend she was talking with Millard again.
The trial is expected to last for another nine weeks. It continues Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.
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