Will Dellen Millard call on himself to testify at Laura Babcock trial?
An incinerator is seen in the woods on Dellen Millard's property near Waterloo, Ont., in this evidence photo. Millard and Laura Babcock are seen in the inset photos. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ontario Courts
TORONTO -- After five weeks of often damning testimony, the Crown rested its case against accused killers Dellen Millard and Mark Smich. Now we must wait to see if Millard will call himself to the stand to testify in his own defence.
It will be a novel sight if he does. Acting as his own lawyer, and doing a remarkably able job at times, Millard will advise the court Monday whether he'll be calling any evidence. Smich's lawyer will do the same.
Millard may want to give jurors his version of what he knows about the disappearance and presumed death of Laura Babcock — but then faces the danger of opening himself to cross-examination by both the prosecution and Smich's lawyer. It may not be worth the risk — if he chooses not to call a defence, Millard still gets an opportunity to address the jury when it comes time for closing arguments.
Supplied court exhibit image with the filename - eliminator - from the Dellen Millard and Mark Smich first-degree murder trial in the death of Laura Babcock.
But how tempting it must be for a man who seems to be revelling in his time in court. During his cross-examinations, he's made sure to boast about being an accomplished pilot, computer whiz, off-road racer, ladies man and free spending friend. For someone who has confidently claimed to always being able to "achieve extraordinary goals," can Millard resist the chance to testify?
He certainly has some damaging evidence to counteract.
Millard, 32, and Smich, 30, have pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Babcock in July 2012. The Crown alleges they killed her at Millard's Etobicoke home on Maple Gate Crt. and then burned her remains several weeks later in an animal incinerator recently purchased by Millard. The prosecution's theory is Millard wanted Babcock dead after she told his girlfriend Christina Noudga that they were still hooking up for sex.
Supplied court exhibit image of Mark Smich and his girlfriend Marlena Meneses from the Dellen Millard and Mark Smich first-degree murder trial in the death of Laura Babcock.
In powerful closing evidence, the Crown showed the jury seven of the 65 letters written by Millard and seized by police from Noudga's Etobicoke bedroom in April 2014. Millard, who had yet to be charged for Babcock's murder, professed his love while beseeching her assistance in his "current legal predicament."
"To get out of this bind, I need help," he wrote. "We need to get our stories straight. I need to know what you're willing to do?"
The guy certainly knows how to pour it on: Millard compared his situation to the time they'd been sailing in a storm. The Toronto Police investigation was the approaching tempest, he wrote, and while "it may seem like I'll be blown against the jagged rocks of an unkind jury," he assured her that he could still anchor safely — just as they managed to do on that sailing trip.
Laura Babcock went missing in July 2012.
"No matter how bad this legal storm gets, there will be the chance of a safe harbour, a cove surrounded by jagged rocks," he wrote.
But he needed her. "Just staying quiet has been an immense help already," Millard told her. Still, there was more she could do to be his "savior."
Millard suggested a story Noudga could tell if called as a witness. "Watever (sic) you may believe, it needs to be put aside, this is what happened."
In his version of events, they saw Babcock on the night she disappeared doing cocaine with Smich in the basement of Millard's Maple Gate home. "You saw her alive with Mark," he wrote.
Christina Noudga. (Postmedia Network files)
They left the next morning without seeing the pair. "Later, when she was reported missing, you asked me if I knew anything," Millard continued. "I told you that Mark had told me that she had OD’d, probably from mixing her prescriptions with Mark’s coke."
Smich didn't call police because he feared being charged with trafficking or worse, Millard wrote. "I told you I agreed to stay quiet in exchange for promise that he would stop selling and stop using coke."
He ended by instructing her to re-read the letter several times and then "DESTROY IT IMMEDIATELY."
Millard later appeared to change his mind. "Ello love," he wrote. "That stuff I wrote before, about seeing Mark and someone at Maple Gate partying in the basement, that was brainstorming, forget it...Destroy this letter — to protect me."
But despite Millard's confident sweet talk and declarations of love, Noudga didn't destroy that incriminating letter or his many others.
And now he must decide — will his sweet talk have a better chance with the jury?