Laura Babock murder trial Dec. 5

Closing arguments are expected to begin today at the Laura Babcock murder trial. Dellen Millard and Mark Smich have both pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

    Hi there, Justice Michael Code has arrived and we are standing by for closing arguments.
    There are some legal discussions happening. Once the jury arrives, we can begin the blog.
    The jury has arrived.
    Millard begins his closing address, "Good morning members of the jury."
    "I see a disadvantage going first... I've not heard the closing arguments of the other parties. I've heard the evidence of the trial, I cannot know for certain what points the other parties will use to frame their arguments."
    Millard says "this is my last chance to address you."
    He says he'll spend the day reviewing the evidence. "It'll seem long and irrelevant at times."
    "There has been a lot of media coverage surrounding my name. Not a lot of it has been so complimentary."
    He asks them to disregard personal opinions they have formed about him. "You may not like the way I've lived my life or treated certain individuals. I ask you to put that aside."
    Millard talks about the "elements of defence."
    He hopes the jury will consider everything they've heard. 
    "I anticipate you will decide the elements of defence have not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt." 
    He says they will have to decide: Is Laura dead? He says not just that, but they will have to decide when she died, how she died, where she died and why she died.
    Millard, "Have you ever been in a dream and thought it was real? Or have you ever been in a dream and knew you were dreaming?"
    He's talking about senses. 
    About half of the jury members are looking at Millard, the rest are looking down or at their hands, or at other spots in the courtroom entirely.
    Millard says "three witnesses at this trial have seen Laura alive after the date at which the Crown says she was deceased - after the date of her alleged death." 
    The Crown has contended throughout the trial that Babcock's phone, bank, and social media accounts have remained untouched since early July 2012. None of her friends and family have heard from her. 
    Millard says our system is based on proof beyond on a reasonable doubt.
    "All the evidence is circumstantial. This is where those inferences become important. In a circumstantial case, the mere existence of other reasonable inferences can lead to reasonable doubt."
    Millard adds, "Based on evidence, gaps of evidence, or lack of evidence can lead to reasonable doubt."
    Millard now says he'd like to go into reviewing evidence now in detail. He reminds the jury they can always ask to re-listen to audio recordings from the courtroom.
    He says he has 14 chapters, for 14 jurors, as part of his closing.
    He begins with "Who has seen Laura since July 4?"
    Millard talks about Gabe Austerweil. He's the older gentleman who says he saw Babcock in a nut store in Toronto, in October 2012 - though he couldn't be sure. He also thought it could be March 2013.
    When Austerweil was cross-examined by the Crown last week, he couldn't recognize Babcock in a photo put onto the large screens in the courtroom. 
    ICYMI Scroll to the bottom of this piece:

    Millard calls expert in zooarcheology to testify at Laura Babcock murder trial

    CBC NewsDellen Millard called three witnesses Tuesday, including an expert in animal bones, at the Laura Babcock murder trial in Toronto. The accused killer is acting as his own lawyer in Ontario Superior Court.
    Millard plays an audio recording from Austerweil's re-examination, when he showed a video of Babcock, taken by a friend on July 1, 2012.
    Millard asks, "Do you recognize that person?"
    The witness said, "No, no."
    Code then asked, "You don't recognize this person?"
    On the recording, Austerweil seems to struggle, then says, "Here yes, it looks like Laura."
    Millard says he didn't hear that part when Austerweil was in the witness box, but the court microphone's picked it up. 
    Millard tells the jury he finds Austerweil to be a reliable witness, he hopes they do too.
    Millard now switches to Bradley Dean. He spent time with Babcock in June 2012. Court previously heard Dean knew her through her brief work as an escort.
    ICYMI Scroll to the bottom of this article: 

    Stranger gave Laura Babcock a place to stay in days before she disappeared

    CBC NewsThe ups and downs of Laura Babcock's life, and the final days before her disappearance in the summer of 2012, are again scrutinized as the trial into her alleged murder continues in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto.
    Dean had told detectives that he went on a date with Babcock on July 10, 2012, but he later told police he was confused about the timing, and he was dating several women at the time.
    Millard says to the jury, "Is he a reliable witness? I say not."
    He adds, "His story changes."
    Millard talks about his relationship now with Babcock.
    "Laura and I had a brief sexual relationship in and around 2009. From that point forward, as witness Andrew Michalski pointed out, he then saw her at my house about once a month."
    He points out a red bag of Babcock's, found in Smich's possession at his mother's home in Oakville, Ont. could've easily ended up at his place or Smich's given the length of his relationship/friendship with Babcock.
    ICYMI Here's the piece we did about Babcock's red bag:

    Duffel bag belonging to Laura Babcock found in accused killer's home, jury hears

    CBC NewsDetectives who seized evidence during the search for Laura Babcock, who disappeared in July 2012, testified Friday at the Toronto murder trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich.
    Millard says he got out of order of his "chapters" when he jumped ahead to the red bag.
    He now talks about Dr. Sohail Khattak, who also knew Babcock through escorting. 
    Millard pulls up a transcript of his testimony, when Khattak says he last saw Babcock.
    "It was July, I don't recall precisely," Khattak said.
    He says it was around Canada Day in 2012, maybe a week after. 
    "A doctor, unchallenged in his evidence," Millard says. "Why is this important? It's important because of the phone records."
    Millard says Babcock's friend, Megan Orr, also said she talked with Babcock on July 4, 2012.
    Millard, "Laura must've changed her phone, must've gotten another phone."
    Millard asks for the morning break.
    Justice Michael Code, "It's too early for that Mr. Millard, it's only after 11."
    Millard pulls up this photo of Smich's then girlfriend, Marlena Meneses.
    Court exhibit
    He now shows the court this photo of himself working on the trailer for the incinerator.
    Court exhibit
    Millard shows two other photos of a woman in the hangar. She's wearing a hat and sunglasses, she's never been identified during the trial.
    Millard says,  "That's not Christina."
    Christina Noudga was his girlfriend at the time. The Crown has argued Babcock's alleged murder may have been motivated by Millard's promise to undo a love triangle. We've previously seen texts where he wrote Noudga that he would remove Babcock from their lives.
    Millard talks about text messages presented in court. Sometimes, it's just been a single text, he says, without context. 
    Now he switches to guns. He pulls up this photo, of the gun he purchased on July 2, 2012.
    "The date makes it seem relevant. You start to speculate. That all of you might start thinking this might be the murder weapon, here we go, we've got some real evidence."
    Court exhibit
    Millard points out an admission that was entered in to court, that said the gun was bought without any ammunition.
    Millard now shows the court a black and pink winter glove that was found at his farm. He first brought up the photo during his cross-examination of Marlena Meneses, it was her glove. 
    He asked her if she ever fired the gun, she said no but then later agreed she had.
    "She did try to lie to you, then she reversed her decision."
    Millard tells the jury that's when the gun was first used.
    "Marlena Meneses is the girl who doesn't like me, and apparently I wanted her to break up with her Mark Smich..."
    "It's pretty clear we weren't the best of buddies."
    He brings up an admission, that read he and Meneses crossed the border together on July 30, 2012. He also shows the court a text message conversation he had with Andrew Michalski, his friend. Michalski asks what Millard brought back from the United States.
    "Ammo" Millard answered.  Millard then reminds the jury he often had trouble at the border, and that's why he brought Meneses with him to the US -- to bring back the ammunition.
    He says the timing is important and proves the gun was empty up until that date. 
    "Don't be misled," Millard warns the jury.
    Millard started his closing address by saying he was going to go through 14 chapters. I'm not sure if we're still on chapter one, or if he's shuffled through several. 
    He's now talking about Babcock's iPad that was later re-named, Mark's iPad.
    Millard says, "If there was a murder, if this was Laura's iPad and she was murdered. Do you think I would keep it around? Do you think I would let Mark keep it around?"
    Millard turns to Christina Noudga, again.
    "It's not Christina being accused of murder, it's me."
    "The question you have to ask is what was my relationship with Laura? I related her to herpes, a parasite, not the nicest things to say," he says." 
    "But Christina was upset. And I was telling her the things she wanted to hear."
    Millard now goes through texts he exchanged with Babcock, that court has previously seen.
    The text reads in part, Millard to Babcock, in mid April 2012.
    "I don't know your disorder. its yours and you don't know anyone else's. it's unfortunate you got dealt a bad hand. i don't blame you for your disorder..."
    It goes on, "you are harmful to me. please don't try to contact me until you've made some huge leaps of self discover. as i said before, good luck with life."
    He's circled the world "until" on the large screen in court.
    He tells the jury, "I am saying, look leave me alone for awhile. There's no threat here. There is no animus [his word]. This is what existed between Laura and myself." 
    Justice Michael Code calls for the morning recess. We'll be back in about 20 minutes.
    We're back in court now. Millard continues his closing address.
    He says he wants to talk more about his relationship with Babcock. He says it's up to the jury to decide if he was sleeping with her around this time -- court has heard they slept together years before. 
    Millard says, "You'll have to decide if I was."
    Millard shows texts from Dec. 2011 between him and Babcock. Some of them are sexually explicit. 
    In one Millard says, "Next guy you sleep with, pretend it's me."
    Babcock writes back, "U wish."
    "Whether I did or did not have sex with Laura [at this time] doesn't really determine any of the major issues with this case," Millard says. 
    Now Millard brings up  texts from Feb. 13, 2012 - the day after Babcock's birthday.
    Court has previously heard about text messages sent between Noudga and Babcock, on Babcock's birthday. Noudga had written it was a year ago that she first slept with Millard. Babcock responded saying she'd slept with Millard a couple of weeks ago. 
    Millard now shows the jury a message from Babcock, from the day after, where she apologize for sending his "gf a rude msg" 
    Millard now shows the court some more text messages, April 19, 2012, between him and Christina Noudga.
    Noudga wrote, "I don't know why, but when you say things like, 'I'm going to hurt her, make her leave, remove her from our lives,' I feel really loved and warm on the inside."
    Millard says, "This isn't about Laura. It's about Christina. About how she wants to feel." 
    Millard asks, "Is this text really motive for murder? Or is this me telling an upset girlfriend what she needs to hear in the moment to feel okay."
    Millard goes on, "This isn't a situation where Christina says Laura bothers me so much I want you to go out and get rid of her... frankly she's said the opposite." 
    He says Noudga "feels insecure. She doesn't ask for any harm to come to Laura. That's a distinction I need you to see."
    "This is talk, this isn't action," Millard says. 
    Millard points out we didn't hear from Noudga at this trial. "She was available as a witness, but she wasn't called. There is an absence of evidence. She didn't come here to explain these text messages."
    Millard says to the jury, that the Crown argues bickering between Babcock and Noudga was motive for murder.
    "I say, that's not. That's ridiculous."
    Millard says he and Noudga had an open relationship. 
    Millard now shows the court photos we've previously seen. There is one of him holding a cat, with a blonde woman, his ex fiancé. There is also a photo of a red Jeep, which his friend Andrew Michalski told the court Millard bought for his ex.
    Millard seems to again be trying to discredit the Crown's theory that he would murder for Noudga.
    "That doesn't make sense," he says.
    "I did a hell of a lot more for other people than I did Christina."
    He goes onto to say that he did not care about bickering between Babcock and Noudga. 
    Millard brings up a text message - that he calls crude - between himself and friend Andrew Michalski. Millard write Michalski can sleep with Noudga.
    "Is she someone I would kill for, or someone I would offer to my friends?"
    He repeats he never bought Noudga gifts.
    Millard shows the jury one of the letters he wrote to Noudga, that begins "The night Laura disappeared."
    ICYMI we wrote about these letters here: 

    'We need to get our stories straight,' Dellen Millard wrote girlfriend after Laura Babcock disappeared

    CBC NewsThe jury at the Laura Babcock murder trial saw some of the 65 handwritten letters accused killer Dellen Millard sent to then-girlfriend Christina Noudga, where he detailed "the night Laura disappeared."
    Millard says the letter was written sometime before April 10, 2014, when they were seized by police from Noudga's bedroom.
    He says he did not get any disclosure leading up to the trial, just a missing persons poster that said Babcock disappeared June 26, 2012.
    Of the letter to Noudga about the night Babcock disappeared, Millard tells the jury:
    "It's of little evidentiary value, because we haven't heard from Christina to tell us what it means."
    Millard points out another letter to Noudga, where he wrote: 
    "[that stuff] i wrote before, about seeing Mark and someone at Maplegate, partying in the basement, that was brainstorming, forget it."
    Millard says there is an absence of evidence before the jury to really understand what this means. 
    Millard goes on about the original letter, where he writes about the night Laura disappeared, saying she OD'd in the basement after doing coke with Mark.
    Millard says, "While I say this letter has little evidentiary value, because we haven't heard from Christina, that minimal value it has is that it points away from murder. At its highest it's talking about trafficking and drugs."
    Justice Michael Code calls for the lunch break. We'll be back at 2:30 p.m. ET
    The jury is back in the courtroom and Millard continues his closing address. 
    "Ladies and gentlemen, I've spent a great deal of time talking about text messages and the dangers of reading just one message and taking the meaning out of context."
    He pulls up text messages from August 2012, between him and Noudga. Noudga asks about when Millard slept with Babcock, and he tells her he hadn't since he got together with Noudga. 
    Millard shows the jury text messages between himself and Shane Schlatman, his mechanic, from July 3, 2012.
    He's talking about the route he travelled that day, court has previously heard that Millard and Babcock's phones track in the same area. 

    Laura Babcock's phone tracked near accused killers before her disappearance, jury hears

    CBC NewsWhen Laura Babcock's cellphone was used for the last time, it was to make a 60-second call to voicemail — a call that connected to a cellphone tower a few hundred metres from accused killer Dellen Millard's home, according to Crown evidence.
    Millard pulls up these two photos for the jury side by side. The first one was taken July 4, 2012 at 1:39 p.m. at the hangar. The second at 2:40 p.m. at his farm.
    "The Crown wants you to believe Laura Babcock's body is in that tarp. It hasn't escaped me." 
    "For this to be Laura Babcock's body, one would have to imagine supposedly I'm dragging a body in a tarp, switching vehicles. Then after I do all my day's routines, I go to the farm to drop this off."
    "Does any of this theory make sense - stopping for engine parts, going to the hangar, transferring this tarp from the convertible to the van, doing some work on an airplane engine, having a photograph taken, then driving out to the farm.
    "I say it doesn't make sense."
    Millard, "I say just like the red bag is a red herring, the blue tarp is a blue herring."
    Millard moves onto the incinerator.
    He pulls up an invoice, where court has previously heard from the Millard family bookkeeper that handwriting on the bill belonged to Millard's father, Wayne Millard.
    "I believe the Crown is going to ask you to make an inference that I bought the incinerator for personal use, all part of some nefarious plan to dispose of a human body."
    "The important part of that is plan. However the incinerator ends up being used down the road is one thing. But what was its intended purpose when it was purchased?"
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