Dispatches from the Tim Bosma trial: Day 5

AmbitionTattooByIgorTumanenko

At trial, Igor Tumanenko drew the “Ambition” tattoo he spotted on the tall guy who came to test drive his truck

Picking up from last Thursday:

Igor Tumanenko is back, still in jeans and trainers but with a new long-sleeved t-shirt, this one from Roots.

Nadir Sachak, one of Dellen Millard’s lawyers, who always starts off friendly, asks: “How was your weekend?

“Busy,” says Igor.

I get the feeling he’s given some thought to his testimony over his days off.

Asked about his police statement, he says, “I did my best, probably I forgot some. It’s unusual for me to see two police detectives… my stomach got frozen.”

His broader point is just because he didn’t include every single detail in his original statement, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

He concedes, though, that to say the the tall guy was moving in his seat like a mouse “maybe is too much.”

After Sachak cuts him off, Igor asks, “Can i just say something?”

“No,” the lawyer says. “He didn’t move like a mouse and that was an exaggeration when you communicated it to the jury. Fair?”

“Fair. I said it was a kind of a pause.”

A few questions later, the Ambition tattoo comes up.

“I don’t remember the conversation” about the tattoo, Igor says

“Do you recall him showing you his wrist?”

“You need to understand where I come from. Tattoo language in my country is criminal language,” says Igor. You would no more ask someone about a tattoo than their underwear.

In certain neighbourhoods, he adds, you get killed for an ambition tattoo.

Sachak asks him to draw the tattoo as he remembers it. He writes Ambition, capital A, the rest lower case, with a rectangle around it.

“You’ve got a rectangle around the word ambition. It’s what you saw, right?

“What I think I saw,” Igor answers.

Sachak asks about other tattoos but Igor says he didn’t pay much attention to them.

Mark Smich’s lawyer Tom Dungey takes over. He asks Igor about a comment he made Friday about how snatches of the test drive came back to him in a flash — how he said the tall guy turned so quickly, after the Israeli army comment, that Igor thought he must have a pain in his neck.

He suggests to Igor that these scenes became clear as a result of being in court and reading over his police statement. Igor agrees.

Dungey asks if the taller guy tried to bargain when Igor said he would take his truck to a dealer if he couldn’t find a buyer. “Someone normally, when they buy a used truck they’re going to to bargain with you?”

“No bargaining at all,” says Igor.

Dungey wraps up. And Igor is done.

Tony Diciano is the next witness, with an Italian as opposed to a Russian accent. Tall and white haired, he’s run an auto body shop for 38 years. He’s known Dellen Millard for 7-10 years and met him through his uncle, Robert Burns.

“You see him,” says prosecutor Brett Moodie. “He gave you a wave.”

He asks the witness to tell him about a call he received from Millard.

He wanted to have a pickup truck painted from black to red, says Diciano.

“Had there ever been a similar request to change colour of truck from one to another?”

“No… that was first time.”

“He wanted it by Friday. I said ‘I’ll probably need (to) Sunday’ … He wanted it in a rush. He wanted it done right away.”

“Was that usual?”

“No, that is first time.”

Moodie asks for more details.

“I spoke to him personally about the truck. The next day he left a message with the manager of the shop, he’s not going to bring the truck in any more.”

“Apart from the idea of changing it from black to red, what discussion did you have about interior?”

He said, “Well I stripped it down, but we’ll leave it black.”

On cross examination, Pillay establishes the paint job was booked on Wednesday May 8 and cancelled the next day. Dungey has no questions.

Rick Bullmann, a neighbour of the Bosmas, is the next witness. He is extremely nervous at first as he describes the location of his house and his father’s adjoining property. At the time Tim went missing, he knew who the Bosmas were but had never met them.

He says he’s a man of habit, who puts his kids to bed at 8:30 and then takes his dog for a walk at almost the same time every night, just after nine.

On May 6, he saw two vehicles pull out of a lane-type road at his father’s place. One was a dark pickup truck he thought might have dumped some garbage.

“Then a second vehicle pulled out behind it. I thought that’s odd,” says Bullmann.

The pickup truck was dark in colour, and was followed by a vehicle that wasn’t a car, wasn’t a truck.

“They didn’t stop. I saw them leaving. That’s all I did.

“That night I thought it was a little peculiar. The next day people came up to my house, passed out the flyers, then I thought someone needs to know about this.”

The police came by with dogs and combed his father’s field looking for whatever they could find.

Next on the witness stand are a bunch of cops. Number one is the guy in charge of the surveillance operation that arrested Millard in Mississauga on Friday May 10. We look at his arrest mug shots and the photos taken of all his various tattoos.

Cop number two is the one who took control of Millard after his arrest, cuffed and searched him. In Millard’s right front pocket, he found a bundle of cash along with three black latex gloves. The gloves are shown to the jury.

After the arrest, they were sent for forensic evaluation with a report issued August 15, 2013.

The third officer to take the stand is the young woman who tailed Millard’s girlfriend Christina Noudga looking for so-called castoff DNA on September 18, 2013. After Noudga bought a Booster juice and drank it, the straw was retrieved from a recycling bin in the locker room of a swimming pool at York University.

And the day finished off with expert phone evidence about the Lucas Bate phone being powered off among other things.

Back tomorrow February 9 at 1 o’clock for more testimony, two hours earlier for some non-jury legal issues.

By Special Request: Day 4 of the Tim Bosma Trial

MarkSmichAdmissionStatement

In an Agreed Statement of Facts, Mark Smich admits his presence on a test drive with Igor Tumanenko. Smich was identified in a photo lineup May 15 and arrested one week later on May 22

These are my Feb 4 notes, not a transcript. All quotes are accurate but lots of dialogue is missing. The key parts are all here

Dellen Millard has switched from his white shirt into a blue shirt with white stripes. Mark Smich has also changed from a white shirt to black and white checks, but kept the same dark gray v-neck sweater on top. The courtroom is about 80-90% full.

The schedule calls for 9 or 10 witnesses to appear today.

First up is Omar Palmili, a slim, fit-looking man wearing a grey suit and pink shirt. He had a 2007 Dodge 3500 special edition, extended cab, metallic black pickup truck with leather interiors and a 5th wheel for sale. It was in very good condition and advertised on Autotrader.

A potential buyer called to ask why he was selling the truck.

“I explained at that time I wasn’t using it because I have another one, basically it was sitting in my parking lot,” Palmili said. “He answered, ‘Oh it’s sitting in the parking lot’…I was a little surprised because of the tone of voice.”

Palmili had to ask the caller twice what his name was. “He had a very deep masculine voice. I believe he was mumbling the name or lowered tone and I couldn’t get it right.”

It sounded like Evan, Ethan or Avan to Palmili.

He and the caller made arrangements for a test drive two days later on Sunday, some time between 3:30 and 4:30. The potential buyer was supposed to call when he was on his way, but when Palmili didn’t hear from him by 4:30, he took a nap. He missed a later call from the potential buyer.

Palmili tried getting in touch with ‘Evan’ a few times more times after that but could never reach him.

On cross examination Millard’s lawyer, Nadir Sachak, poses a bunch of questions about the truck and its location in the parking lot before picking apart Palmili’s testimony about the caller’s name.

“You didn’t say, sir, you seem to be mumbling or it appears you’ve changed the tone of your voice?”

“No.”

“It wasn’t so suspicious because you made arrangements to see him the next day?”

“Correct.”

Sachak gives Palmili a copy of the statement he made to police.

“‘He lowered his tone of voice when he gave his name’ — does it say that in the statement?”

“No.”

What about how he somehow changed his tone of voice, asks Sachak.

“No it doesn’t say.”

“What it does say and I want you to correct me if I’m wrong is, ‘I told him I’m not using the truck, that it’s just sitting in my parking lot. He said, ‘Oh, it’s just sitting in the parking lot.’”

“Correct.”

“This was statement when your recollection was most accurate … as time goes on, your memory suffers a bit?”

“Correct.’

Sachak wraps up and Mark Smich’s lawyer Tom Dungey takes over.

“I take it you’ve never been involved in anything like this before,” he begins.

“No.”

“The reason you remember about this person mumbling, lowering his voice, you asked him twice” what his name was?

“Yes.”

“Prior to this, you had no problem.”

“Correct.”

“One of the reasons you remember is because you asked him his name again?”

Yes.

“He never said to you in clear loud English, ‘My name is Dellen, my name is Millard?’”

“That’s the only time he mumbles?”

“Yes, right.”

Shortly after, it’s a wrap for Palmili. The next Crown witness arrives. It’s Arthur Jennings, 60-something, shaven head, grey goatee, glasses, Mom jeans, tie, striped shirt. He has a bit of an aging biker look going on.

Jennings says a cheerful good morning. Crown prosecutor Brent Moodie establishes that in 2013 he had returned to school to study supply chain management. The school was supposed to try to get him a job placement, but they didn’t succeed so he approached his son-in-law, Shane Schlatman, who worked for Dellen MIllard at the Millardair hangar at Waterloo International Airport.

What was Shane’s role, asks Moodie.

Pretty much everything when Dell wasn’t there, says Jennings whose placement began on Feb. 6, 2013.

As for Jennings, he usually worked a six-hour day. There was another guy who would sometimes help Shane with cars and some Colombian contractors that worked for Millard doing construction, but after they left it was just Dell, Shane and Jennings.

Any airplane work, asks Moodie.

“No absolutely not,” says Jennings.

He explains he did whatever MIllard wanted done and worked on rebuilding his own personal golf cart when there was nothing else to do.

“You brought your own golf cart,” asks the prosecutor

“Yes.”

“I would work on my golf cart. Dellen wanted (Shane) to build an electric bike so Shane was on that. Spencer might work on one of his cars. Dellen wanted a trailer built.”

“Would you work on your golf cart frequently?”

“Yes.”

They never really knew when Dellen would show up, says Jennings.

“Dellen would say ‘hi.’ I would say ‘hi.’ We never really got into personal conversation.”

Monday May 6, 2013 was just a normal work day mostly spent working on the trailer.

There was no set routine. Jennings usually brought coffee and donuts for Shane. They put their lunch boxes away. He worked til about 4, then went home.

The next day, as was his habit, he went to his son-in-law’s house for coffee, to chat with his daughter and see his grandkids. It was a beautiful day, and he had decided to take it off. He told Shane as they were drinking their coffee. Then, Shane’s phone dinged, a text coming through.

“The look on Shane’s face was pretty shocked, surprised.” It was a text from Dellen, says Jennings. When he went out to his car, he says he got the same message: “Airport politics no one goes to the hangar today, not even just to grab something.”

Later that day, Jennings saw a report about Tim Bosma going missing on the news.

“You’re a truck guy?” says Moodie.

“I am, yes. The running boards were chrome and steel.”

“Why did that catch your eye?”

“It just did, didn’t look normal. A normal truck wouldn’t have it. It looked nice.”

The next day, Jennings recounts, he went back to work, brought coffee and donuts, put his lunch away, had a chat and then headed to the washroom.

“There was a black Dodge pickup sitting on a green tarp on the floor. My exact words to myself were, ‘Oh my God, could that be the truck?’”

He recognized the chrome running boards, he says.

“My son-in-law was told not to come to work which really perked my interest. It was very unusual. He was expected to be at work no matter what.”

Jennings stayed away from the truck all Wednesday. “I was uncomfortable,” he told the court

The next day, he says, Shane told him Dell had purchased the truck from someone in Kitchener.

When he first saw it, Jennings testified, “except for the back bench seat, everything else was out of it.” The plates were gone too. There were some paint cans on the tarp.

Jennings went home and discussed the situation with his wife, who also couldn’t believe what he was telling her.

The next day, he took a photograph of truck and the VIN number, he tells the court.

He phoned Crimestoppers in Brantford and gave them the last six digits of the VIN and asked them to check if it was Tim’s truck. “That’s all I can tell you right now,” he said. “I will call you back if you check those VIN numbers.

“I was pacing, going outside, having 15 cigarettes.Iwas hoping beyond hope it was not the truck and Dell was not involved … She said, ‘Yes, it is the truck. Where is it? Please tell us where it is.’

“I went into shock. I went inside my pickup truck and vomited because I was that upset. I was upset for everybody.”

He phoned his wife but didn’t talk to Shane. “I knew Shane and Dellen were so close that I didn’t want to cause a rift between them.”

By that night, his daughter knew something was going on. Shane came to his house and blew up, he told the court. Then Shane left.

On Friday morning, there were more coffee and donuts at work just like on a normal day. “I didn’t know how far up this went. I didn’t want to bring harm upon myself or my family,” said Jennings. “It was better just to stay off to the side and let’s see what happens.

“We were working on the trailer project that day. Shane was adamant it had to be done. When Dell wanted something, Shane made every effort to get it done.”

By Friday, something had changed, however. The black truck was gone, the tarp was gone and the giant trailer that sat outside the hangar was also gone, Jennings said.

After lunch, he went to Home Depot to get some boards they needed for their renovation of another trailer. When he came back, Shane and Dell were in the office area, where Jennings said Dell lived.

“Dell was looking at me. Shane would look at me, turn his head. They were having a heated discussion,” he told the court.

Then Millard came over and told him to get all his stuff and go home. “That’s when I later found out that the police had been there,” Jennings testified.

“He wasn’t angry, just calm, same old Dell. It really had me confused.”

He collected his tools, his golf cart, yet another trailer Shane was going to build him, and a meat smoker. He gave the key fob for the hangar back to Shane.

“I felt like a mouse in a trap,” he said. “I didn’t know if someone was going to come in and whack me. I had no idea. I didn’t know what was going on. I packed up all my stuff drove it home.”

“At some point Mr. Jennings, you go to police — why?”

“I wanted to be proactive not reactive.I didn’t want myself or son-in-law involved. And I knew we weren’t. I knew it was better to tell my story before they made me look like I was part of the crime and I wasn’t. He wasn’t.”

Jennings also testified that he had met Mark Smich half a dozen times at the hangar including the week of May 6th when Smich was there one day with Millard. Asked which day, he replied: “It had to be Wednesday because Thursday was a bad day.” He said Millard had given Smich a weird look that day.

On other occasions, Smich and his girlfriend came to work at the hangar. He and Jennings occasionally chatted superficially on their smoke breaks.

Ravin Pillay handles the cross for Millard.

Monday May 6, it was a normal day, he asks Jennings.

“Pretty much, yes.”

“No one mentioned it would be shutting down the following day?”

Jennings agrees.

“No forewarning?”

“No.”

Pillay clarifies that no one ever asked Jennings to return the fob that week even on Friday May 10.

“Throughout the week of May 6, you had access to the hangar?”

“Theoretically yes but no. We were not allowed.”

“You definitely were familiar and aware of missing truck as of evening of May 7.”

Jennings agrees.

There was nothing say not to come to work?

“I checked with Shane and off I went.”

You go about your regular routine on Wednesday May 8?”

Jennings agrees.

Nothing out of the ordinary, asks Pillay.

“Not when I first get there, no.”

“The truck was immediately apparent?”

Yes.

“Your heart sank? You got a gut feeling?”

“Yes I did.”

“You said, ‘Oh my God?’”

“Yes, it was quite a shock.”

Pillay asks how big the hangar was — 50,000 square feet?

“I just know it was a big hangar and it was hard to wash by myself with a mop.” (Jennings mentions several times in his testimony that he was required to wash the entire hangar floor.)

“No attempt to conceal the truck?”

“No.”

“You become very suspicious?”

“Yes sir.”

“My concern was what has Dell got himself into… I didn’t know how far it went, who was involved … I didn’t know where this went, where it led.”

Pillay asks about what happens when he found the truck gone on Friday.

“I went through whole hangar. I was finally told to mind my own business, stay out of it by Shane.”

Jennings could see the truck’s tracks on the floor he had just cleaned.

“Nothing stopped you from taking photos on Wednesday May 8?”

“No sir.”

On Thursday, the VIN number wasn’t removed?

“No, absolutely not.”

Pillay establishes that airport security checks out the hangar area regularly. Then he asks: “There were no garbage dumpsters at the hangar, right?”

“Good question. I can’t remember. I know there was a lot of garbage piled up in the parking area — furniture.”

“You would frequently see Mr. Millard take garbage away?”

“Shane would give bags to Dell and Dell would take them away.”

Pillay’s cross wraps up.

Smich’s lawyer, Tom Dungey begins his cross by asking Jennings about how it felt to be fired.

“Actually it was a relief, more a relief due to what the situation was.”

“You felt it was (Millard) got rid of you because you told police about truck?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You talked to Shane about the truck?”

“Thursday night, yes.”

Jennings testifies that the reason he was given as to why Millard’s vehicles were stripped down is that he had an allergy to mould.

He also said Shane was intending to quit on Friday because he didn’t want to be involved in anything.

Asked about Smich, he said he and his girlfriend did whatever Millard wanted them to do. “They showed up with Dell and they left with Dell … Mark did what Dell wanted him to do. I didn’t pay any attention to what they were doing but it was obvious he was helping Dell.”

Jennings told Dungey it was made clear to him that others’ work assignments were “none of my business … it was made quite clear to me what my position was.”

“How was it made clear to you?”

“My son-in-law. it was a work relationship. it’s strange to understand.I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t want to.”

“Did you ever see any work done on airplanes?”

“No.”

People worked on “cars or construction dell wanted done in building, putting up walls stuff like that.”

There was “nothing got done in that hangar without Dell having control?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You never saw Mr. Smich there without Dell?”

“Yes.”

“You are agreeing with me?”

“Yes.”

“He had to be there or give permission to be there?”

After hours, “I wasn’t allowed near that building. After I left, just common knowledge you don’t go back until the morning.”

“This is not a criticism, but you were hesitant to put you name forward?”

“For the safety of Shane, my daughter and my grandkids…I just knew that I didn’t want to be involved and wanted to discuss it with my family and make sure my family was the same. It was a primal instinct to protect my family.”

Igor Tumanenko is the day’s final witness and one I’ve been waiting to see a long time. He is the guy who went on the first test drive with Smich and his tall buddy, and identified the Ambition tattoo. He’s tall, fit, broad shouldered, barrel chested and has a fantastically thick Russian accent. He’s wearing a long-sleeved grey t-shirt, jeans and trainers. He was trying to sell his Dodge Ram truck on kijiji and Autotrader. He wanted to replace it with a cube van.

He met up with the test drivers on Sunday May 5 at his apartment building in North York near Bathurst and Steeles. “Two fellows show up just from nowhere,” he says, adding that he didn’t know where their car was parked. The three men shook hands

The tall guy gave his name as Evan, not Ivan the Russian name, Igor remembers.

Smich — who Dungey admitted Thursday, in an agreed statement of facts, was present for the test drive — was “not hiding but never in front of me,” said Igor.

The taller guy did show interest in the car, jumping around to check the suspension. He told Igor he was planning to tow some race cars to Calgary.

They headed out for a test drive, first with Igor driving and then, after a bit, he handed over the keys to the taller guy. “We had obviously nice conversation,” says Igor. “I told him I am familiar with this engine from Israeli army experience. Shorter guy asks me, ‘What did you do in Israeli army?’ I look at him and I tell him, ‘You don’t want to know what I did there.’”

The taller guy turned and looked at the shorter guy in the back seat, which alarmed Igor as the taller guy was doing 60k on a highway exit ramp, according to Igor.

“Did the mood change,” asks Moodie.

“I would say there was a change of temperature, dynamic inside of car.”

By now, the men were back on Yonge street.

Asked to describe the taller guy, Igor said: “The guy was taller than me but not like basketball player” and “he was skinny not fat like me” and he “was wearing a man bag, I call this Indiana Jones but much smaller, more Hangover like bag.”

On May 7, Igor gave an audio recorded statement to Hamilton police.

“Did you notice any distinguishing features?” asks Moodie.

He describes a tattoo located on the wrist.

“It was saying ambition and it was in a frame.”

“Small or capitals?”

“I think it was capitals.”

“What were you paying attention to? What was the dynamic like? What were you focussed in on?”

“Nothing specific. I pay attention to tattoo. In country where I was born tattoo was a criminal language, another thing I pay attention to… so yes, I pay attention to what it’s saying. It’s very ambition to have ambition on your arm.”

Sachak strolls over to the podium to begin his cross examination. He smiles and and asks, “How are you, sir?”

“Good,” says Igor in his heavy Russian accent.

Sachak makes the point that Igor lives in a very large building at an “extremely busy intersection.”

“People can look at the parking lot from units in building,” he suggests as Igor agrees.

On the test drive, he asks, “you also had normal chit chat?”

“Yes.”

Igor says that the tall guy showed knowledge of the truck. “He played with odometer. I just wonder what he’s doing there. It’s not an ipad,” he told the court.

Igor suggested they go on the 407 so the test drivers could check the car.

“He was appreciative?” asks Sachak.

“I don’t know,” answers Igor. “He didn’t buy the truck so I don’t know if he was appreciative.”

Sachak moves on to what happened after the Israeli army comment, coaxing more information out of Igor.

“I see taller guy turn his head and look around. I think, ‘c’mon you need to drive.’”

How long, asks Sachak.

“It was enough for me… 1 second, 2 second, when you’re driving 60 you can not look in the back.”

“Did you say, ‘buddy what you’re doing?’”

No, says Igor.

“It was not so bad for me to start screaming ‘pay attention to the road’ (but) it was there.”

“You want to describe it as a big deal but it was not big deal.”

“i just want to describe what happened.”

“Not only was it not the end of the world, you were not concerned about the glance.”

As the cross examination continues, Igor tells Sachak he remembers the driver adjusting his seat after the Israeli army comment and “moving like a mouse” in his seat.

Sachak asks Igor to look at his original police statement. “I don’t want to nitpick,” he says. But there’s “no reference to him moving like a mouse.”

Things get so heated between counsel and witness that the judge has to intervene. At one point Igor also says to Sachak, “Don’t tell me what I don’t know.”

As he did with Omar Palmili, Sachak is seeking to expose inconsistencies between the witness’s testimony in court and their original police statements. He asks Igor about his police statement:

“You were being honest?”

“Yes.”

“Truthful?”

“Yes.”

This statement was made two days after test drive.

“Your memory then was much better than it is in today?”

“Yes and no. When detective called me and they came, second person disappeared. You become a little bit nervous.”

All the statement says, says Sachak, is that after the IsraelI army comment, the two guys exchanged looks — a glance.

There’s nothing about adjusting seats, nothing about moving like mouse, nothing about the temperature changing, nothing about how you were concerned driving off road, the attorney says.

Today is “the first time you mention anything about moving like a mouse.”

“It starts coming back to me like a flash,” says Igor who will return to court on Monday to continue his testimony.

Tim Bosma Murder Trial AMA (Strings Attached)

After taking a few days to think about how I can best cover the Tim Bosma trial and what I can do here on my website that not every other reporter in the courtroom is already doing, I’ve decided to try and host an ongoing AMA. (AMA — if you’re not familiar with the term, which originates with Reddit — stands for Ask Me Anything.)

Although in this case, it will have to be “Ask Me Anything that I can answer without the risk of being in contempt of court.” A trial is a very sensitive time. Journalists take great pains to only report on what’s said and done in court in front of the jury. We can’t cover anything else.

So that means you can AMA about what happens in court in front of the jury and I will try to provide the answer. After a few days, I’ll assess whether it’s a workable plan for the rest of the trial and whether people are interested.

Please ask your question(s) by leaving a comment and I will answer when I get the chance. My goal is to do so asap after you ask it, but I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. This is a work in progress.

Here’s an example:

Arnie asks: Hi Ann … you are one of my favorite reporters on this case and I look forward to your book in the future. Have you been able to tell if the “ambition” tattoo has a rectangular border around it or not?

Me: This is what my notes (not the official transcript) show about the witness who spotted the Ambition tattoo. He appeared on Thursday and will be back Monday:

Igor Tumanenko said: “It was saying ambition and it was in a frame.”

“Small or capitals?” prosecutor Brett Moodie asked

“I think it was capitals,” Tumanenko answered.

Snoop Beaver asks: How much advance notice do reporters have of the list of witnesses?

Me: It varies from day to day. Also, keep in mind, no one ever knows how long a witness will take. The trial powered through seven witnesses on Wednesday and finished early. Then there were, nine or ten scheduled for Thursday, and they didn’t get through three. A trial is very much a work in progress.

Snoop Beaver: Does (Dellen) Millard have supporters in court – friends, family?

Me: It’s possible that both he and (Mark) Smich do. Reserved seating is available for the families of the accused, but they may prefer to sit in non-reserved seats in the body of the courtroom.

Arnie asks a follow-up: In the courtroom , is the “ambition” tattoo visible, and  does it have a rectangular box around it? thanks

Me: No tats on display in the courtroom.

A reader asks:  Was the Mississauga phone number explained in court? Is it the number of any of the truck owners who were contacted for a test drive?

Me: The Mississauga number refers to a telephone number phoned by the so-called Lucas Bate phone. It was brought up in Day 3 of testimony. It belonged to a Colin B and/or Sharon B in Mississauga.

Hamilton police officer John Tselepakis was asked to look into that and another number in Kitchener. While visiting the person connected to the  other number in the 519 area code, he and his partner Paul Hamilton were sent to go check out the hangar. They did not follow up on the Mississauga number at that time.

Some questions from C:

Q: Can the prosecution or defense counsels recall witnesses at a later date to clarify or give additional testimony to their original testimony in court as evidence unfolds and develops in this case?

A: Yes.

Q: When Millard’s GF testifies, will the jury be told that she is also charged in connection with the case?

A: Yes, the jury will be told. They already have been told. Here is what the Crown said in its opening statement:

Mr. Millard’s girlfriend will testify in this trial. She is currently charged with Accessory After the Fact to Murder for her role in events after the murder of Tim Bosma. Her trial on this charge is pending.

 


And a reminder: I can only answer your questions about what happened in court in the presence of the jury. If it has not been dealt with in court before the jury, I cannot answer you at this time.

Here’s an example of a question I can’t answer from Arnie:

Q: Do you think the DVR (Digital Video Recorder) found at Ms Noudga’s home was the security recording unit for the whole hangar ?? I do , because there are numerous cameras at the hangar , at least on the outside.

A: I have no idea and, even if I did, I couldn’t tell you because there has been no testimony about the DVR in court yet. The only reference was in the Crown’s opening address, which is not evidence. Prosecutor Craig Fraser said on Monday Feb. 1:

In the search of Mr. Millard’s girlfriend`s residence, police also seized from her bedroom a DVR- digital video recorder – that Mr. Millard had taken from the airport hangar and given to his girlfriend to hold on to, apparently without explanation. He gave this to her on May 9th when he picked her up while en route to Kleinburg to drop the trailer with Tim Bosma`s truck in it at his mother`s place.

The police examined the contents of the video and the Crown intends to prove that Dellen Millard and Mark Smich are in the hangar on May 7th at around 1:30 am – during the time the Crown says the remains of Tim Bosma were being incinerated in the Eliminator, just outside the hangar doors.

 

If you want an idea of how the trial will unfold over the next weeks and months, read the Crown’s full opening address, but please be aware, as it says in the statement, it is not evidence but an outline of the case the crown will work to prove.

Both the accused Dellen Millard and Mark Smich are pleading not guilty to first degree murder.


 

I’ve created a Twitter list if you want to follow the reporters covering the trial in real time. You can also  follow my Twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter depending on how you prefer to get your news alerts.

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Tim Bosma murder trial week two

Dear readers,

I spent a lot of last week trying to figure out what kind of coverage of the trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich for the murder of Tim Bosma that I could bring you.

At first I thought I’d do daily dispatches, but that proved too onerous. And if I just do the highlights, I’m simply doing what everyone else is doing while not really delivering any value added.

After taking a few days to think about what I can do here on my website that not  every other reporter in the room is doing, I’ve decided to try and host an ongoing AMA. AMA — if you’re not familiar with the term, which originates with Reddit — stands for Ask Me Anything.

Although in this case, it will have to be Ask Me Anything that I can answer without the risk of being in contempt of court. A trial is a very sensitive time. Journalists take great pains to only report on what’s said and done in court in front of the jury. We can’t cover anything else.

So that means you can AMA about what happens in court in front of the jury and I will try to provide the answer. After a few days, I’ll assess whether it’s a workable plan for the rest of the trial.

Please ask your question(s) by leaving a comment and I will answer when I get the chance. My goal is to do so asap after you ask it, but I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. This is a work in progress.

As you may have noticed, I’ve turned on comment approval for the duration of this trial.

Needless to say, the fact that I haven’t let a few comments through has left some people fuming. To them, I say, “Just let me know when you’ve signed the contract stating you will pay all future legal fees related to commenting on this blog and you’ve set up a provisional bank account for the retainer. Then we’ll talk. Until then sayonara.”

But enough about the ingrates, I’m sure you have lots of good questions so fire away, and I’ll do what I can to answer and create something here different from what the MSM is doing.

First AMA starts here

For some more background on the first week of trial, check out this CTV report on the so-called “cutthroat defence” being employed:

I’ve created a Twitter list if you want to follow the reporters covering the trial in real time. You can also  follow my Twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter depending on how you prefer to get your news alerts.

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Dispatches from the Tim Bosma Murder Trial: Day 3

Court resumes for the third day of the Tim Bosma murder trial at 10 a.m. today, Wednesday February 3.

I’ve replaced my opening statement notes from Monday with the Crown’s full address. It’s a really well written outline of the case which gives a good idea what to expect at the trial, but please be aware it is not evidence.


 

Day 3

Greg Jackson looks like a cop. Tall, grey-haired, craggy faced and on the force for 30 years. He was the so-called file manager on the Tim Bosma case. He’s here to give “the narrative” of what happened in the early stages of the investigation, to provide the jury with knowledge of the chronology.

Jackson made what’s known as a “humanitarian request” to get information asap from Tim’s cell provider. It was quickly established that the calls from the prospective truck buyer came from a phone registered to Lucas Bate. Next, the police took steps to see where the phone had been active by looking at tower locations. They also checked the other numbers called by the so-called Bate phone and established that one of numbers led to a kijiji ad for a truck.

Jackson and Sergeant Greg Rodzoniak went to see the owner of this truck, Igor (sorry don’t yet have the spelling of his last name) in person on the afternoon of Tuesday May 7. He said two males had come to test drive the truck and one had an Ambition tattoo on his wrist. Igor drew the tattoo on a piece of wood, marking a border around the outside of the letters. Someone, police or prosecutors, still has that piece of wood.

Identification officers also inspected Igor’s truck but couldn’t get fingerprint impressions. They attempted to lift a footwear impression on the rear driver’s side.

Police also made a humanitarian request to Wind Mobile regarding the Bate phone, looking for the cell phone towers it pinged in the hours before Tim Bosma went missing.

Using Google, Jackson checked into various tower locations and and saw it had pinged a Brantford tower at 10:56 p.m.

The next day, a crime analyst creates a tower and cell phone map for them. They also got more information on the Bate phone which was in Oakville at 7:24 on the morning of May 6. At 5:13 Tim called the Bate phone. At 7:22, it contacted Tim and then again at 9:04.

Meanwhile after discovering they had nothing in their record systems about an Ambition tattoo, they reached out to other police forces.

“You received information from two reliable police sources in Peel and Toronto that Mr.Millard had an Ambition tattoo,” assistant Crown Tony Leitch asked Jackson.

“That’s correct.”

After learning Mr. Millard’s phone number, police contacted Rogers to get details of its recent activity and received a series of tower locations phone had been using. They found the phone pinging towers near his home in Etobicoke at 5:13 and 5:33, in Oakville at 7:59 and 8:13, in Ancaster at 9:02, in Brantford at 9:44 and in Cambridge at 11:48 and 11:59.

“Mr. Bosma was still missing,” said Jackson. “It provided the investigative team with other locations we could check. As well, the phone towers were very similar to the Lucas Bate phone.”

Officers also checked out the address supplied for Lucas Bate and discovered it was a school known as Lakeshore Collegiate. No one by the name of Lucas Bate was registered there.

“We couldn’t identify who it was or identify Lucas Bate,” said Jackson.

Two other officers were also sent to speak with Dennis Araujo, another person contacted by the Bate phone. They were Detective Sergeant Paul Hamilton, who looks more like an Eastern European professor or a watchmaker than a homicide cop, and Detective John Tselepakis. They learned he also had a Dodge Ram pickup for sale but had missed a call from the Bate phone and not reached the caller when he phoned back.

While in the Waterloo area to interview him, detectives were asked to head over to the Millardair hangar and see if they could talk to Dellen Millard. When they arrived they found two men sitting in an office behind the empty reception area. “One identified himself as Mr Millard,” said Hamilton. “He made a comment to the effect of ‘the suits are here’ and he walked out to speak to us.

“He said, ‘let me put this on pause,’ came out of office and closed the door. We continued our discussion. At one point he took a satchel out of the desk in the reception area and put it over his shoulder.”

It was a canvas looking satchel with a brown strap. Igor had described an Indiana Jones-style bag.

“He asked us what would bring us to that particular location,” said Hamilton, who told him it was just another tip that they were investigating.

“What else did you ask him?” says the prosecutor.

“I asked him if it was okay if we had a look around. He said, ‘I thought you were going to say that.’”

When they asked Millard his address, he gave them the address of his farm in Ayr.

“Upon leaving I contacted the investigative team right away and gave them the information,” said Hamilton. “At that point it was decided we would maintain surveillance.”

The two Hamilton cops parked down the road and waited for Waterloo police to bring out the surveillance team.

Leitch asked Hamilton if he saw the man he had questioned that day in the room.

“He’s sitting at the last table in the courtroom with the white shirt on,” the detective replied as Millard raised his right hand in greeting. Hamilton appeared taken aback as did almost everyone else in the courtroom.

Upon cross examination, Millard’s lawyer Ravin Pillay elicited information about the man Millard had been meeting with, who was described as an older white male. He also made the point that Millard had not tried to conceal or hide the satchel.

Mark Smich’s lawyer Tom Dungey had not questions.

After lunch, Detective Tselepakis went over a lot of the same information except when he was asked to identify Millard, the accused did not respond this time.

Next up, witness Dennis Araujo gave his account of his contact with the Lucas Bate phone and the truck he had for sale. He was cross-examined by Pillay’s co-counsel, Nadir Sachak, who established it was a powerful truck good for towing.

Clark Kingswood was witness number five. He had been working as a contractor at the Brantford company Kemira, mowing the lawn when he discovered a cellphone by its fence. “It was covered with a bit of dirt and a bird dropping as well,” he told the court. “It would have interfered with lawn cutting so I stopped the lawn mower.”

When he’d finished his work, he handed the phone over to Liz Rozwell, who was then the production manager at the company. “I cleaned it up,” she explained. Then, since she wasn’t familiar with Samsung phones, she got someone to help her plug it in and turn it on. “There was a whole bunch of dinging.”

They didn’t read all the texts downloading but instead went into the contacts. Rozwell called the number labelled as “home.” Tim’s sister answered, told her not to touch anything and call 911. The police arrived and took the phone, checked video and interviewed Kingswood and Rozwell. There was no relevant video.

Upon cross examination, PIllay established from both Kingswood and Rozwell that the phone was not damaged and appeared, apart from the dirt, to be in good condition and operable. Dungey had no questions.

The final witness of the day was retired homicide detective Randy Kovacsik, who had gone out with Greg Rodzoniak to get the phone and interview the witnesses.

And that was it — seven witnesses at a fast speed after some legal wrangling early in the day.

Back tomorrow for the last day of trial this week. The court isn’t sitting on Fridays due to the expected duration of the trial.

Throughout the trial I will be providing regular updates here on my blog plus the occasional tweet, as I work on my upcoming book on the Tim Bosma case. You can follow my Twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter.

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Dispatches from the Tim Bosma murder trial: Day 2

Court resumes at 1 p.m. today February 2.

The Bosmas’ tenant Wayne De Boer will return to the witness box to pick up where he left off yesterday.

Did you know in Canada we’re supposed to call it the witness box and not the stand? I think an argument can be made for stand, however, so as not to confuse it with prisoners’ box if you’re just talking about “the box” as lawyers often do.

Both the accused, Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, are pleading not guilty.

Update: What happened in court

Compared to Day One, today was more low key.

Witness Wayne De Boer was cross examined by Millard’s lawyer Ravin Pillay and Smich’s lawyer Tom Dungey. What follows are snippets of dialogue not a transcript-style reproduction. I have just picked and highlighted some interesting exchanges.

“The first guy came forward, made eye contact, and you felt you could trust him, right?” asked Pillay referring to his client’s behaviour on the night of the fatal test drive.

“Yes, as much as you can trust a stranger, yes,” replied De Boer.

“The other guy didn’t make eye contact, hung back, concealed his face and body, right?” asked Pillay, this time about Mark Smich.

De Boer agreed with his assessment.

Then, Tom Dungey, who had declined to cross examine Sharlene Bosma, headed to the lectern to question De Boer.

“The tall guy was really control of situation at all times?” he asked.

“From what I could see, yes,” answered De Boer.

“Did he leave you with impression he wasn’t there to buy truck?” Dungey asked.

“I can’t be sure,” said De Boer.

“You had some hesitation to what was going on, did you not?”

“Yes, the situation had an odd feel to it.”

Dungey asked De Boer if he found it odd that the tall guy didn’t want to move the truck to better view it in the light from the garage.

“It was a mixture of that and body language of (Mark Smich) and the speed at which the entire interaction happened.” said De Boer.

The cross examination concluded.

After that we heard from a friend of Tim Bosma’s and two police witnesses.

The friend described a visit with Tim in the early hours of the evening he went missing and how, during it, Tim was contacted by the prospective truck buyer.

The first officer traced the provenance of a phone involved in the case. It was a Huawei U2801 purchased at Mobile Tech in Etobicoke on March 11, 2013. The name given by the buyer was Lucas Bate and the number was 647 303 2279. No surveillance footage was available as the store only had video going back to April 1.

The second police officer was a fingerprint expert who gave a full CSI explanation of fingerprint matching and detailed how he matched a right thumb fingerprint on the rearview mirror to Dellen Millard’s right thumb.

The trial continues tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

I’ve replaced my opening statement notes from yesterday with the Crown’s full address. It’s a really well written outline of the case which gives a good idea what to expect at the trial.

Throughout the trial I will be providing regular updates, including the occasional tweet, as I work on my upcoming book on the Tim Bosma case. You can follow my Twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter.

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Dispatches from the Tim Bosma murder trial: Day 1

There were a few things that stood out for me on the opening day of the trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich for the murder of Tim Bosma:

The totality of the Crown’s opening statement laying out the case the prosecution will work to prove. Read summary of the statement

Sharlene Bosma describing how Tim was pacing up and down wondering where the potential truck buyers were and why they came so late. He asked his wife if he should go with them. “I said, ‘yes you should because we want the truck to come back,'” Sharlene testified as she choked back tears.

Just a few minutes before, assistant Crown attorney Tony Leitch had asked her, “I know you’re not a big car person but what do you know about the rims?”

“They were all the same,” said Sharlene to laughter in the courtroom. Even a murder trial has its moments of levity.

After Tim left on the test drive, Sharlene and the Bosmas’ tenant Wayne De Boer were smoking and discussing the two prospective truck buyers. They agreed they were sketchy.

“I felt like it was a weird situation to be in — just how quickly everything had happened. I tried to defuse the situation,” De Boer testified. He did this with black humour, joking about the worst possible, most extreme, unimaginable outcome. “Yeah that was weird,” he said. “It might be the last time we ever see him.” 

Two people haunted by what they said when everyone in the courtroom could likely see themselves saying and doing the exact same thing.

Throughout the trial I will be providing regular updates, including the occasional tweet, as I work on my upcoming book on the Tim Bosma case. You can follow my Twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter.

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1,001 days from the disappearance of Tim Bosma to opening statements at trial

And so the actual trial part of the Tim Bosma trial finally begins on Monday — 1001 days after Tim Bosma disappeared, 997 days after Dellen Millard was arrested and 985 days after Mark Smich was arrested.

Both Dellen Millard and Mark Smich are pleading not guilty to first degree murder of Tim Bosma, and it goes without saying that none of the allegations against them have yet been proven in court. They are innocent until proven guilty.

It should not take this long for a case to get to trial, but, in Ontario, most murders aren’t tried until two years after charges are laid. This places a tremendous burden on both the family of the victim and the accused as well. Witnesses are also affected as memories fade, a dark cloud looms endlessly over them, and sometimes people even die.

That’s no excuse for this type of delay. By way of comparison, the Boston Marathon bombing took place on April 15, 2013, the month before Tim Bosma was killed. It was both a hugely complex, terrorism-related investigation and a death penalty case to boot, yet the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began on March 4, 2015 and ended with a verdict on April 8, 2015. It was quite exceptional in the US where murder cases are almost always tried within a year, as they should be in Canada too.

After watching Justice Andrew Goodman handle the pre-trial motions and jury selection in the Bosma case, I’ve decided he may just be the man to help fix the oh-so-slow Ontario criminal justice system. He took over as the trial judge in October 2015 after the well respected Justice Stephen Glithero fell sick and had to step down.

Justice Goodman got up to speed on the complicated case almost immediately, kept the knotty pre-trial motions on schedule, and arranged the jury selection so it ran like a well oiled machine for six days starting on January 18th. He had calculated and allotted an average of 90 seconds for each prospective juror, coordinated all the various jury panels, and even arranged a Plan B should a flu bug sweep through the chosen jurors before opening statements. The lead prosecutor Tony Leitch said after day one of the process that he had never seen jury selection move so fast.

By way of another comparison, when I was last present for what was supposed to be jury selection in Superior Court in Toronto earlier this year, the trial had to be delayed for two days because there was no jury panel available. I was told this was not unusual. There used to be too many jury panels brought in on Mondays, and prospective jurors complained about the waste of time sitting around. The “fix” was to cut the number of Monday panels across the board regardless of how many trials were scheduled to start on the first day of any given week. As a result, there were now sometimes too few panels on Mondays and trials were getting delayed. This kind of problem is all part and parcel of why the justice system in Ontario is so bogged down and why trials don’t happen within a reasonable time framework. (If only Uber’s inventors would turn their attention to the courts.)

Which brings me to Tim Bosma’s family, who have had to wait almost three years for this trial to begin. In the face of all these delays, they have been amazingly stoic — and, on occasion, cheerful. On December 18, the last day of the pre-trial motions,Tim’s father Hank shook hands with many of the lawyers, police officers and reporters present, and wished everyone Merry Christmas. He and his wife Mary were smiling and outwardly happy despite the senseless tragedy they have lived through. This, I thought to my atheist self, must be what it’s like to have the kind of faith they have.

When I see the Bosmas, I always think back to something the police officer in charge of this case said when he was asked, back in May 2013 by a reporter, what it was like to break the news of Tim’s murder to his family. “As the leader of my team, I think that’s my job to do the hard jobs, and it was a very hard job to notify the family of a loved one,” Detective Sergeant Matt Kavanagh of the Hamilton Police said. “I’m sorry for the Bosma family. I have no idea what they’re experiencing right now.

Throughout the jury selection process, the Bosmas kept to themselves, more than they had during pre-trial motions, although Hank Bosma did come over when I was chatting with Molly Hayes, a Hamilton Spectator reporter, to thank her and her colleague Susan Clairmont for their articles about the opening of the trial.

Monday, the evidence portion of the trial, finally begins. Whether the Crown will give a long opening statement or just a short one and jump right into calling witnesses remains to be seen, as does who the first witnesses will be.

A number of people have asked me if they can attend the case and the answer is yes. The trial will take place in the John Sopinka courthouse’s biggest courtroom, which can hold about 100 onlookers. There’s also a special overflow courtroom, which will have a video feed.

Going to court is fascinating, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re at all curious. It’s also like time travelling back to my elementary school days, before a lot of the old rules got thrown out. You must, for example, stand up when the judge enters and departs. And there’s absolutely no gum chewing, coffee drinking, or even reading glasses on your head. While no one sings God Save the Queen like we used to have to do in grade school, there are references aplenty to Our Sovereign Lady.

Court is traditional and sometimes even ceremonial. More surprisingly, the jury selection process for this case — which ran from January 18 through to January 25 — was quite inspirational. Even though we were all present for a horrible reason, there was something uplifting about seeing so many citizens trekking through — some carrying parkas, some still wearing their coats — and saying they were “willing and able” to spend four months of their lives on a jury for a first degree murder trial.

It was almost but not quite enough to make me forget that it had taken 1,001 days to get to the opening statements slated for February 1, 2016, and that justice delayed can sometimes be justice denied for both the victims and the accused.

Throughout the trial I will be providing regular updates, including the occasional tweet, as I work on my upcoming book on the Tim Bosma case. You can follow my Twitter feed or sign up for my newsletter.

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