Jury sees photo of handgun purchased by accused killer Dellen Millard at Laura Babcock murder trial

A photo of a .32-calibre handgun was projected on several large flat screens in front of the jury Wednesday at the Laura Babcock murder trial — a firearm sold to accused killer Dellen Millard days before Babcock disappeared in the summer of 2012.

Aspiring rapper who sold Millard a .32-calibre handgun testified Wednesday

This was one of two photos presented to the jury Wednesday, showing the handgun Dellen Millard bought days before Laura Babcock vanished in early July 2012. (Court exhibit)

A photo of a .32-calibre handgun was projected on several large flat screens in front of the jury at the Laura Babcock murder trial — a firearm sold to accused killer Dellen Millard days before Babcock disappeared in the summer of 2012.

The man who sold the gun, Matthew Ward-Jackson, 30, was in the witness box Wednesday afternoon, often evading the Crown's questions.

  • Read CBC News's full coverage of the Laura Babcock murder trial

Wearing a black tracksuit with tattoos covering his face and neck, Ward-Jackson told the court he was there against his will, after Crown prosecutor Jill Cameron read out his criminal record — mostly for gun charges, including a conviction for the gun sale to Millard.

The Crown alleges Babcock was killed on July 3 or 4, 2012, at or near Millard's home in Etobicoke, Ont.

Millard, 32, and his one-time friend, Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., are accused of first-degree murder. Both have pleaded not guilty. They're being tried in Ontario Superior Court in front of a jury.

Matthew Ward-Jackson, a Toronto rapper known as Ish, told the court he pleaded guilty to a trafficking charge in connection with the sale of the handgun to Millard. (Twitter)

Ward-Jackson repeated many times that he couldn't remember specific details, though he was able to confirm a text conversation on July 1, 2012.

Ward-Jackson, a rapper who goes by Ish, wrote to Millard, ".32 but its a really nice nice compact piece im sure ud like it."

When asked by Cameron who he sold the gun to, Ward-Jackson — who will be sentenced in December for the gun charge — said, "I assume it went to Mr. Millard … he showed interest in it, but I'm not sure if it was for him or a third party."

Conflicting testimony

But during cross-examination with Millard, who is acting as his own lawyer, Ward-Jackson seemed to stray from his earlier testimony.

Court heard the two first met in a parking lot. Ward-Jackson said he approached Millard out of the blue to admire one of his cars.

Millard suggested it was Ward-Jackson who made the initial contact for the gun sale.

"I'm going to suggest to you that you thought I had money to spend," Millard said to the witness.

"My first impression of you was that you were a manly man, interested in cars, girls, guns. I assumed you would perhaps want it, or would know somebody who wanted it," Ward-Jackson responded.

Court heard this gun was found at Millard's home in Etobicoke, Ont., by police in November 2012. (Court exhibit)

Ward-Jackson then told the court, "Mr. Millard never showed me an interest in acquiring a firearm."

Justice Michael Code stopped the witness, and repeated the phrase back to him as a question.

Ward-Jackson responded, "Not that I recall."

While Millard attempted to put distance between himself and Ward-Jackson, who was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs and escorted back into custody, the Crown went through a number of phone records between the two men — including a 49-second call on the afternoon of July 4, 2012.

Cameron told the jury the call was made around the same time a photo was taken on Millard's phone, showing his dog next to a large item wrapped in a blue tarp.

Court has seen this photo a number of times throughout the trial. It was recovered from a phone backup found on a computer seized from Dellen Millard's home. (Court exhibit)

"Did you ask Millard why he needed a gun?" Cameron asked the witness.

Ward-Jackson said he didn't.

'I never said I killed the girl'

Millard spent the morning taking one of his former best friends down memory lane — telling the court despite their close bond, which at one point included matching mohawks, he never confessed to killing Babcock.

"I never said I killed that girl, or I took care of that girl, did I?" Millard asked Andrew Michalski. "We were such close friends, I could've brought that up if I wanted, but I didn't?"

Michalski, 27, responded briefly, "You didn't."

Michalski testified Tuesday that there was what he called "bad blood" between Babcock, Millard, and a woman Millard was dating, Christina Noudga, of Toronto. Babcock and Millard had previously slept together, court has heard.

The Crown's theory is that Babcock was murdered in order to undo the love triangle — something Millard appeared to fiercely contest during his cross-examination of Michalski.

Millard showed the court a number of photos of the two men, often with different women. Millard repeatedly pointed out which ones, he said, he was romantically involved with.

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

He also reminded Michalski about the night they met Babcock, at a downtown Toronto bar in 2008 or 2009 — neither could remember exactly when.

"Laura and I had a brief relationship, a couple of weeks, maybe a month," Millard said in court.

​Michalski, who referred to his former friend several times today as "Sir," told the jury Tuesday that Millard and Babcock were still romantically linked in the months before she disappeared, which Millard questioned.

"You assumed it... You never saw Laura and I kissing or having sex?" he said.

Michalski responded he didn't see either.

Laura Babcock was 23 when she suddenly disappeared in early July 2012. Her social media accounts, bank and phone records remain untouched. (Babcock family)

'Get to the point'

Justice Code interrupted Millard several times during his  2½-hour cross-examination of Michalski, urging him to "get to the point."

Millard took jury members through lengthy text conversations the men shared about their hobbies and women, photos of a trip they took to race vehicles in Mexico, and a screen capture of their video game scores.

What was missing from much of it, was Smich.

Millard said to Michalski: "You and I were best friends. We worked together well ... Mr. Smich and I didn't get along well. But I supported him, I protected him?"

Michalski agreed.

Before Michalski was finished in the witness box, Crown prosecutor Ken Lockhart stood to clarify a point, asking what he would have done if Millard had confessed to killing Babcock.

"You would've called police?" Lockhart asked.

"Of course," Michalski answered.

Read today's live blog for more in-depth coverage. On mobile? View the live blog here.

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.