Mark Smich wants Laura Babcock murder charge stayed

 

Accused Murderer Mark Smich

Mark Smich was charged in April 2014 for the murder of Laura Babcock. His trial is set for September 2017, three and a half years later

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.

 

Dark Ambition chronicles the Tim Bosma murder investigation and trial

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screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-2-37-55-pmDark 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:

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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.

Come hear about ‘Dark Ambition’

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Pre-order at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo

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.

What brought Mark Smich and Dellen Millard together?

The question of how Mark Smich and Dellen Millard came to be best friends has been asked many times since the two men were charged in May 2013 for the first degree murder of Tim Bosma, a crime of which they were eventually convicted.

In one of his letters from jail to his girlfriend Christina Noudga, Millard wrote: “Some people gave food to food banks, some people donated money to the homeless, and some people spent months in africa building homes. Mark was all three rolled into one for me.”

Smich’s girlfriend Marlena Meneses testified at his trial that she believed Mark was “in love” with Dellen, who had promised to help him fulfill his desires to be a rap star.

A selfie still from one of Mark Smich's rap videos

A selfie still from one of Mark Smich’s rap videos

Although Smich was commonly perceived to be Millard’s follower, when he took to the witness box at their joint trial, he pointed the finger straight at Millard, saying he alone had murdered Tim Bosma.

Smich proved a self assured witness whose story was believed by many. During his four full days of cross examination by Millard’s lawyer, Nadir Sachak, there were many testy encounters between the two. At one point Sachak asked Smich to rap for the jury, Smich’s lawyer Thomas Dungey quickly objected, and the judge agreed, telling the court, “He can read, but I don’t think he has to perform it.”

Smich then read aloud the lyrics he had written:

Its me muthaphuka, so relentless
Runnin from cops outta them spots, over them fences
Im high so im half fuckin demented
But i still
gotta get away nice and splendid
Got my 9
So im runnin like its nothing … Till im dead, kid!
I am not unstoppable
but I like to live my life without the cops involved
Its not probable, but if it happened to me … . Problem solved!
Im just comin for the loot, so shoot first, i come for your new purse, and wallets, I
want some chronics, and that juice cuz ima alcoholic,
No stallin, give it to me in a quick haste, more speedy then fast paced,
Im runnin away from the police in a cash race,
First one, im never last place

The creation date for this particular lyrics file on Smich’s iPad was February 16, 2013, while the date for last modification is May 21, 2013, the day before Smich was arrested.

When Sachak erred in referring to a date, Smich pounced on his mistake. “Could be one those brain cramps,” he said. “You’re probably under a lot of stress.” The comment didn’t fit with Smich’s portrayal of himself as the victim of his powerful friend’s crime, but it provoked laughter in the courtroom and was much remarked upon online by those following the trial live on Twitter.

“Zing,” wrote “meterclicks” on Websleuths. “MS is giving Sachak a taste of his own medicine this morning.”

“Oh snap LOL,” wrote “Kamille.” “MS should have been a comedian LOL.”

“Interesting. I’m starting to believe that MS is not as dumb as what I first thought,” said “Redheart.”

“Smich is getting sassy,” wrote “Katpaws.” “I’m still fully on the fence about MS’s role, but I’m not a fan of Sachak’s style at all … so I can’t help but take a little delight in MS’s quick comebacks. Clearly cleaning himself up has revealed a more clever and quick-witted guy than we initially realized.”

Undeterred by Smich’s retort, Sachak asked again what exactly Smich modified on May 21, 2013.

Smich explained instead that adding one letter or a space would cause a file’s modification date to change.

“Tell us what was modified,” said Sachak in exasperation. “What part was modified on May 21, 2013?”

Smich gave a lengthy account about how Meneses could have used the iPad and caused the modification. He repeated his explanation about inserting a character by mistake, adding that the file could have been opened randomly.

Sachak cut him off. “I don’t need to know how an iPad works,” he said, looking at the jurors as if to say he shared their pain. “Just tell me, What did you modify? Please help me. Please answer that question.”

Smich never did.

Sachak placed more rap lyrics on the courtroom screens.

You can read the full story of Smich’s testimony in my book, Dark Ambition, due out in November 2016.

Say10 baseball cap found on Mark’s iPad backup

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Say10 was the nickname Dellen Millard gave to his best friend Mark Smich. In turn, Smich christened Millard Dellen the Felon.

Pictures outlined in yellow were found only in backup files and not on the physical iPad. Pictures outlined in green were on the iPad and in backup files.

This photo is from evidence presented at the trial of Dellen Millard and Mark Smich for the murder of Tim Bosma.

I will be posting the full PowerPoint as soon as possible.

Mark Smich surveillance photos from Tim Bosma trial

Mark Smich in Oakville the week before his arrest and two days after his friend Dellen Millard was charged with first degree murder

Mark Smich in Oakville the week before his arrest and two days after his friend Dellen Millard was charged with first degree murder

The complete set of surveillance photos shown today at the trial of Mark Smich and Dellen Millard for the murder of Tim Bosma can be found at the link.

The defendants are pleading not guilty. The trial is in its fifth week.

‘Pig pen’ bedroom at Mark Smich’s mother’s house

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Taken during search of home of defendant Mark Smich on May 22, 2013

This photo was part of exhibits presented today at the trial of Mark Smich and Dellen Millard for the murder of Tim Bosma.

After Smich was arrested, his mother’s house, where he lived part of his time, was searched. The officer responsible for carrying out the search of this and one other bedroom described it as a “pig pen.”

The defendants are pleading not guilty. The trial is in its fifth week. More photos follow.

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The rest of the house was described as tidy

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The iPad was seized

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The iPad was not password protected so officers could read messages

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Smich’s healthcare card was also found and seized

Police surveillance photo of Mark Smich with GF, Marlena Meneses

Hamilton police took this photo of Mark Smich with his girlfriend Marlena Meneses on May 14, 2013

Hamilton police took this photo of Mark Smich with his girlfriend Marlena Meneses in Oakville on May 14, 2013

The photo was put into evidence today at the trial of Smich and Dellen Millard for the first degree murder of Tim Bosma.

Both Smich and Meneses were arrested on May 22, 2013. According to the officer in charge of the surveillance team, Smich yelled repeatedly at his girlfriend, “Don’t tell them anything, Babe.”

Smich and Millard are pleading not guilty. Meneses has never faced charges relating to the murder.

Dispatches from the Tim Bosma trial: Day 5

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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.