Laura Babcock murder trial: Jury sees animal incinerator Crown alleges was used to burn body
Warning: This story contains graphic subject matter
For the first time at the Laura Babcock murder trial on Thursday, the jury saw the huge animal incinerator that the Crown alleges was used to burn the Toronto woman's body.
Court saw photos of accused killer Mark Smich standing in front of the imposing black machine — smiling from ear to ear — and a screen capture found on co-accused Dellen Millard's computer, from a website asking, "What temperature is cremation done at?"
The Crown alleges Babcock, 23, was burned in the incinerator, dubbed "The Eliminator" by the manufacturer, after she was killed by the pair in July 2012.
All of Thursday's testimony came from retired OPP officer Jim Falconer, who was back in the witness box for a third day to provide more evidence about messages, photos and videos found on electronic devices seized from homes of the two accused — Millard, 32, of Toronto, and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. They are being tried in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto.
Through Falconer's three days of testimony, a timeline of alleged events surrounding Babcock's disappearance has begun to emerge. The Crown has yet to provide a narrative linking these events, and has instead presented them to the jury factually, through Falconer's presentation.
Building a timeline
Court has heard that the last outgoing phone call from Babcock's phone came on July 3, 2012, at 7:13 p.m. ET.
Then at 7:30 p.m., Millard texted Smich, saying, "I'm on a mission, back in 1 hr."
Court has also heard that Babcock's phone stopped connecting with cellphone towers at 11 a.m. on July 4.
Falconer's presentation included a photo shot at 2:40 p.m that day that was recovered from one of Millard's computers. It showed a blue tarp, rolled up, with a dog sitting next to it. The Crown has not explained the significance of the photo.
Falconer's presentation also highlighted multiple messages between Millard, and a contact only referred to as "Shaner," about trying to build a homemade incinerator, and then purchasing one.
In messages, Millard referred to the "BBQ trailer" as a high priority. The two also discussed propane hookups for the device.
"Bbq has run its warm up, it's ready for meat," Millard texted Smich on the afternoon of July 23.
The screen grab found on Millard's computer, about the necessary temperature for cremation, was made at 10:38 p.m.
The jury also saw a photo of an object engulfed in flames from inside the Eliminator, which was taken on July 23, 2012 at 11:20 p.m.
The Crown has not said what was burning inside.
Rap video played
The jury also saw video pulled from devices found at Millard's home. One was shot on July 23 at 11:45 p.m., at an airplane hangar owned by Millard. It shows flaming embers floating in the air, with the sound of a low rumble in the background.
The Crown then showed a text file, found on an iPad called "Mark's iPad," which was created less than an hour after the video was shot. It read:
The bitch started off all skin and bone,
Now the bitch lay on some ashy stone,
Last time I saw her's was outside the home,
And if u go swimming u can find her phone.
A video of Smich rapping that verse was then shown on video screens in the courtroom.
Previously, at the Laura Babcock murder trial:
- Day 7: Jury hears of Babcock's struggles with mental health
- 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'
Read CBC News's full coverage as the trial continues.
Judge cautions Millard
Millard, who is representing himself in court, cross-examined Falconer during the court's afternoon session, asking a series of questions about manipulating and doctoring images in Photoshop. Repeatedly, Falconer told Millard he wasn't really able to answer many of his questions.
Justice Michael Code cautioned Millard, at one point.
"You're asking him inferences about content, Mr. Millard," Code said. "He's simply a searching officer… it's for the jury to draw inferences."
Millard also attempted to introduce other text messages for "context," but in many cases, the judge did not allow him to ask Falconer about them.
"I'm just trying to fill out the record," Millard said.
The trial continues Friday for its 14th day, when Mark Smich's lawyer Thomas Dungey will cross-examine Falconer.
Read a recap of today's live blog for more in-depth coverage. On mobile? View the live blog here.