Dellen Millard describes in murder trial video how he found father's body
Man convicted of Laura Babcock and Tim Bosma slayings is facing his 3rd trial for murder
For the first time, a court on Monday heard Dellen Millard's own version of events from the night he says he found his father dead, lying in bed with a bullet lodged in his brain.
Video of Millard's statement to police, made hours after the coroner began examining the body of his father, was screened at Millard's first-degree murder trial at the Ontario Superior Court in Toronto.
The death of 71-year-old Wayne Millard was originally ruled a suicide in late 2012. He was found dead at his home at 5 Maple Gate Court in Etobicoke, Ont., with a single gunshot wound through his eye.
The Crown now contends his son, Dellen, 32, killed him, but the case was only reopened after the younger Millard was charged with the murders of Hamilton's Tim Bosma in 2013 and Toronto's Laura Babcock in 2012.
Millard was found guilty of those murders and is currently serving consecutive life sentences. He has pleaded not guilty to killing his father in the judge-alone trial.
He had depression in him ... he carried some great sadness with him throughout life, but I never really knew what it was.- Dellen Millard
In the video, Millard tells police that he walked into his father's home on Nov. 29 to pick up a sweater. As he was walking down a hallway, he noticed his father was still in bed, he says.
"I poked my head in, and something didn't seem right … I walked into the room and saw blood on the pillow," Millard said. "For a moment I had to leave the room, I went back to my room. Then I went back to my dad's room and called my mother … I said there's blood all over his pillow, and he's dead."
Millard tells police in the video that the last time he saw his father was on Nov. 28 around noon, for a business meeting.
In the video, Millard says his father "has a very strong liver" because he drinks so much, and was dealing with a debilitating back problem. He also says his father was stressed about his business, and dealt with depression.
"He had depression in him ... he carried some great sadness with him throughout life, but I never really knew what it was," Millard says. "He never wanted to share it with me."
The statement points to the centre of the defence's case — that Millard's father killed himself because he was a reclusive, depressed alcoholic.
Coroner explains why he ruled death a suicide
The coroner who initially ruled Millard's death a suicide, Dr. David Evans, testified Monday that he thought there was a "reasonable chance" Millard had killed himself.
In one of his reports on the case, Evans said that in looking at the scene where Millard died, the trajectory of the bullet, the powder marks on the left hand and powder on the pillow, it "would appear this death was consistent with suicide."
But he also told the court he is not an expert in crime scene reconstruction or bullet trajectory.
Evans said it's not common, in his experience, for someone to shoot themselves through the eye. He said the way Millard's hand was positioned when he was found "might have been consistent" with pulling the trigger with his thumb.
The extent to which rigor mortis had set in signified Millard had been dead for at least 18 hours when Evans examined him, court heard.
Ruling influenced by family members
The former coroner testified his findings were influenced by statements he received from Dellen Millard and his mother, Madeleine Burns, who told him Wayne Millard was having financial problems and was dealing with bouts of depression.
"At the time, I thought it was more consistent with a suicide. In retrospect …" Evans said at one point, before Millard's lawyer, Ravin Pillay, quickly objected.
Last week, court heard the alleged murder weapon in the case was moved before it could be properly documented by investigators — something one police officer said goes against rudimentary crime scene training.
Two separate police officers have now testified that Evans picked up and moved the bag where the alleged murder weapon was found.
Evans denies that ever happened. "I have to leave evidence at the scene as it was," he said.
Scene seemed suspicious
Though Evans consistently called the case a suicide in his reports, at least one police officer did have doubts.
Now retired Toronto police detective James Hutcheon said "lots of things" made him think the death was suspicious — chief among them how long it took for Millard to call 911 after he allegedly found his father's body.
"The first thing Dellen Millard did when he found his dad was deceased was not to call 911, but to call his mother ... and they waited until she arrived at the home to call 911," Hutcheon said.
He also testified that the large trailer Millard had parked at his father's home at the time set off some alarm bells in his mind. Sometimes, he said, people take valuables out of a loved one's home before they call 911.
"That made me suspicious, that that vehicle was there," he said.
None of that was enough to charge Millard with any crime at the time, he said.
Hutcheon, like several other first responders who have testified, said Millard showed no signs of emotion that night, even though his father was dead.
"He was very calm. He didn't appear upset at all."
Follow along with a recap of the CBC's live blog from inside the courtroom below. On mobile and can't see the live blog? View it here.