By now you may have heard the news that Mark Smich, the convicted killer of Tim Bosma (along with his ex-pal, Dellen Millard), wants the charges against him for the murder of Laura Babcock stayed due to undue trial delays.
You may be panicking. Could this really happen? Oh yes it can, you’re saying. Look at this case in Ottawa where an alleged murderer got off and this one, where charges of sexually assaulting a child were stayed because technical issues caused trial delays.
In the latter case, Ontario Court Justice David Paciocco said the accused’s right to a speedy trial had been violated. He cited the Supreme Court’s recent Jordan ruling, which set time limits on the period between charges being laid and the trial getting underway. Those limits are 18 months for most criminal cases and 30 months for the most serious cases, including murder.
Justice Julianne Parfett used the same reasoning when she stayed the Ottawa first degree murder charges mentioned above. In something of an understatement, she wrote in her ruling: “I am well aware that, in deciding to stay these charges, the family of the deceased in this matter will not see justice done as they would want.”
According to the news reports, neither of these judges seemed overly concerned about the possibility their rulings might bring the justice system into public disrepute. Ontario’s attorney general almost immediately asked for a review of Parfett’s ruling. (Ed: I’d like a review of how she became a superior court judge. Can you look into it? And what’s up with this Paciocco guy while you’re at it?)
The news of Smich’s upcoming motion was raised by his lawyer Thomas Dungey in Toronto court today for a routine proceeding.
In another case, whose updates were heard just before Smich’s, there were also concerns raised about possible trial delays. Regarding this other, non-Smich case, Justice John McMahon said, “We’re not going to have a murder case in Toronto stayed because we didn’t do it in the time. It’s not going to happen.”
Smich was charged with the murder of Laura Babcock in April 2014. His trial was supposed to have begun earlier this month but was delayed because his co-accused Dellen Millard said he couldn’t find nor pay a lawyer and he had been denied legal aid. That caused the Babcock trial to be bumped to September of this year. (The court also heard Millard still hasn’t gotten his finances sorted and is appealing the Legal Aid decision.)
Millard’s and Smich’s circumstances are somewhat unusual given that they themselves weren’t available at earlier dates for the Laura Babcock trial. They spent several months of 2015 and the first half of 2016 in court in Hamilton for the murder of Tim Bosma for which they were eventually convicted.
Millard is also charged with the murder of his father, Wayne, a trial which isn’t scheduled to take place until 2018.
Both Smich and Millard are pleading not guilty to all charges against them.
My book, Dark Ambition provides the full story to date.
Goodbye and good riddance to Christina Noudga.
When Dellen Millard’s unpopular ex-girlfriend left a Hamilton courtroom Tuesday, after accepting a plea deal and pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, there was, more than anything, an overwhelming sense of relief.
The deal meant there would be no more Noudga. No recounting of what Crown attorney Craig Fraser described as “the horrific and soul destroying details of Tim Bosma’s murder.” No three-week-long trial to determine if Noudga should be found guilty as an accessory after the fact to the murder of Tim Bosma.
Instead, Noudga, whose trial would have begun this week, pled guilty to the lesser charge of obstructing the course of justice by destroying evidence. The deal meant Tim Bosma’s family would finally be able to end their painful involvement with the criminal justice system. “They believe Ms. Noudga is being held to account for her actions,” Fraser told the court. “The public interest…truly is best served by sparing the Bosma family another trial while still holding Ms. Noudga accountable for the role she played in destroying evidence.”
Christina Noudga, dressed in dark blue and black, dabbed at her eyes before the hour-long proceedings, began and as they ended. Although it was impossible to tell if she was wiping away tears, her attitude was markedly changed from the Bosma murder trial where she shocked the court time and again with her lack of empathy and failure to display any remorse. Smart, pretty and ambitious, she managed to leave even hardened homicide cops and veteran criminal lawyers shaking their heads in disbelief. After the trial, Tim Bosma’s mother Mary would describe her as “evil.”
During her week on the witness stand, Noudga laughed in court as if oblivious to the fact she was testifying at a murder trial in front of the victim’s parents, sisters and widow. She said she remembered little or nothing of many of the key events about which she had been called to testify. She appeared to have no sense whatsoever of right or wrong. Respect was a foreign concept.
In one of the trial’s most memorable moments, a letter Millard had written to Noudga from jail was shown on the courtroom screens. “I believe we deserve each other,” Millard wrote. “I deserve you, and you deserve me.”
“That’s what he wrote to you?” asked Thomas Dungey, the lawyer for Millard’s co-accused, Mark Smich.
“Thank you,” said Dungey, “no further questions.” It was the last time Noudga had exited the Hamilton courthouse in the glare of the media.
This week, her lawyer Brian Greenspan said his client can change. She was just 18 when she met Millard and 21 at the time of the events in question. She has since graduated from university and plans to go to graduate school in health sciences. She has a job waiting for her once her legal issues are settled. And she’s doing grass roots work for indigenous peoples in Honduras. She’s joined Amnesty International.
The old days of Christina posting YouTube videos of herself cursing Ecuadorean immigrants and condescending to entire courtrooms are over. She’s rebranding as a human rights advocate and, though this was not mentioned in court, an artsy Instagram party girl.
Greenspan says Noudga accepts responsibility for those actions she engaged in — destroying evidence by wiping away fingerprints — but not for those conducted without her knowledge, by which he means the murder of Tim Bosma.
This question of what exactly Christina Noudga did or didn’t know about that murder would have been at the heart of her accessory after the fact trial had it taken place. To prove her guilty, the Crown would have had to have shown that she knew her boyfriend had murdered an innocent man when she went with Millard to hide the trailer containing Bosma’s truck and to move the incinerator used to cremate the victim’s remains.
Fraser said the prosecution was in a “strong position” but that its case was circumstantial and “inferences would have to go the Crown’s way.” He said there was no direct evidence of Noudga having knowledge of the murder.
What he most definitely did not express, however, is what Greenspan later told the Canadian Press — that it is “clear and accepted by everyone… that (Noudga) was totally unaware that a homicide had taken place.”
Whether or not Noudga knew or didn’t know is a topic on which there will likely continue to be disagreement along with the question of whether justice was done. But to the people in the courtroom, the plea deal was the right choice. And its rightness was only reinforced when Justice Toni Skarica announced that he would have found there to be “insufficient evidence that would prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused knew about the murder that had just occurred.”
It was a surprising declaration from the judge and a reminder of why plea deals so often make sense for both parties. For better or for worse, they take the unknowns and the uncertainties out of the mix.
In exchange for time already served in jail, a sample of her DNA, and a criminal record, Christina Noudga was free to go. And the Bosmas, the police and prosecutors were free to never spend another minute in her presence. That was worth a lot to everyone involved.
You can read the full story of Christina Noudga’s testimony at the Tim Bosma murder trial, and all about the jailhouse letters she received from Millard in the book, Dark Ambition: The Shocking Crime of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich.
Dark Ambition: The Shocking Crime of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich went on sale November 8. (Yes, that day.) In between the wall-to-wall Trump election coverage, I did a number of radio and TV interviews about the book, two of which have been posted online.
If you’re curious, my talk with John Gormley can be found here, the last item on the November 9th list. I also spoke to Scott Radley of CHML in Hamilton, who wondered what more there was for the public to know about the Tim Bosma case after the very extensive trial coverage. You can hear my response by going the station’s audio vault and filling in the date (Nov. 9) and time (7:00 p.m.) of the interview and then fast forwarding to 7:42 p.m.
Radley is not the first person to ask me if they will learn something new from the book. Here’s what some readers said:
— Anchored Vision (@anchored_vision) November 11, 2016
Comments like this are extremely gratifying. One of my goals with this book was to take people inside the courtroom and help them understand in detail what it’s like for the police to investigate a murder, and then for the prosecutors to bring the case to trial. Another thing I try to do is give readers a feel for how this tragic and extremely high-profile murder was discussed in social media and occupied armchair detectives at sites like Websleuths, which not everyone is familiar with.
You can buy Dark Ambition in most bookstores and order it online at Chapters/Indigo and Amazon although the hardcover version is temporarily out of stock until Nov. 17th at Amazon Canada. A few copies are still available at Amazon.com.
I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about the book in the comments section. Or you could come out and talk to me in person at a special literary evening on Thursday November 17th in Burlington. Writers Stephen Brunt and Brent van Staalduinen will also be there discussing their new books. There’s a $20 admission fee with all proceeds to the East Plains United Church.
I’ll be speaking about my new book, Dark Ambition: The Shocking Crime of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich on Thursday November 3 at the Barbara Frum library.
Although Dark Ambition won’t be officially released until November 8, there will be special copies for sale on Thursday.
Also speaking will be Jeremy Grimaldi, author of A Daughter’s Deadly Deception, the story of the fascinating Jennifer Pan case.
Here are the details.
Hope you can make it if you’re in the GTA.
Just how much Dellen Millard is actually worth has always been one of the mysteries surrounding the convicted murderer.
Receivership documents filed with the courts in November 2015 indicate there’s a severe cash flow problem.
Millard’s major asset, a shareholder loan of $4.2 million made to Millard Properties, may not be good and even if it is, he may never be able to collect it for all sorts of legal reasons.
While these documents make interesting reading, two key figures are still missing: the value of Wayne Millard’s estate and how much the hangar sold for. That makes it impossible to estimate how much money remains in the Millard family coffers and how much, if any, may end up coming Dellen’s way.
Also of interest are the claims made by the Bosma family against Millard and the fact that Millard’s mother Madeleine Burns had to go to court to free up $75,000 to pay various legal fees for both herself and her son.
Both defendants say they didn’t get a fair shake at their four-and-a-half-month trial.
It’s extremely rare for a first degree murder verdict not to be appealed.
Read more about the appeal in the National Post.
Text messages between Dellen Millard and Lisa Whidden — his real estate agent turned lover — were entered into evidence to day at the Tim Bosma murder trial.
Millard is pleading not guilty to the murder of Tim Bosma as is his co-accused, Mark Smich.
Here is the PowerPoint for the forensic examination of computers and related electronics seized from Dellen Millard’s residence in Toronto.
I have removed five slides which I need to redact due to a publication ban. I will post them here once the redactions are done.
Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll do my best to send you key trial exhibits