Laura Babcock murder trial: Expert says photo appears to show human bones burning
Burning objects seen in photo taken of the inside an incinerator belonging to accused killer Dellen Millard look like human bones, according to an expert in bones and burned remains who testified today at the Laura Babcock murder trial in Toronto.
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Tracy Rogers started her testimony Friday afternoon, saying she had examined two photos that were shot on July 23 at 11:20 p.m., which were found on electronic devices that were seized from Millard's home.
"I was able to state that the objects in the incinerator appear similar to human bone," Rogers told the jury.
The Crown alleges an animal incinerator called The Eliminator was used to burn Babcock's body after she was killed in July 2012.
Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have both pleaded not guilty of first-degree murder in the 23-year-old woman's death.
They are being tried in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto in front of a jury.
Rogers told the jury that police gave her two photos, which she examined extensively. CBC News has chosen not to publish the photographs.
'I don't think I was registering what I was looking at'
In the photos, objects can be seen engulfed in flames. One of them, Rogers testified, is similar to a human radius bone — likely a left outer forearm.
Another is similar to a human humerus bone, which is in the upper arm, and connects to the elbow.
Rogers said she couldn't say for certain if the objects inside the incinerator were definitely human bones, because she only examined photographs. No body was ever recovered in connection with the case.
The police officer who discovered the animal incinerator on a rural property also testified in court today.
Sgt. Annette Huys of Hamilton police was in the witness box Friday morning talking about the object she found in the treeline of a Waterloo, Ont.-area farm owned by Millard during a police search in the spring of 2013.
"When I walked up to the trees to see what was there, I honestly had no idea what it was," Huys testified. "I'd never seen a piece of machinery like this before. I don't think it was really registering what I was looking at."
Judge cautions Millard
The judge cautioned Millard several times Friday morning over a lengthy and difficult to follow cross-examination about cellphone and computer data.
Retired OPP officer Jim Falconer was back in the witness box for a fourth day, answering questions from the defence about messages, photos and videos found on electronic devices seized from homes of the two accused.
Previously, at the Laura Babcock murder trial:
- Day 1: 'Are you nervous?' Millard questions Babcock's father
- Day 8: Last outgoing call made near accused killer's home, jury hears
- Day 9: Babcock's bag found in accused killer's home
- Day 10: Former detective describes data on seized computers, devices
- Day 11: Accused killer, girlfriend compared Babcock to 'herpes'
- Day 12: Jury sees animal incinerator Crown alleges was used to burn body
Read CBC News's full coverage as the trial continues.
Millard is representing himself at the trial, and peppered Falconer with questions about metadata taken from photos and video, and its corresponding GPS data, in an effort to show that data pulled from devices may be incorrect.
On several occasions, Justice Michael Code cautioned Millard about his lines of questioning.
"Mr. Millard, this is a very interesting esoteric debate, but it doesn't strike me as relevant in any way," Code said at one point.
"I thought you only had a few questions ... we've now been at this for almost an hour," Code said at another juncture.
The trial is not sitting on Monday and will resume Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Read today's live blog for more in-depth coverage. On mobile? View the blog here.
Adam Carter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org