Straight to trial for two men charged with murder in death of Laura Babcock

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TORONTO — Two men accused of murdering a Hamilton-area man will go straight to trial in the death of a Toronto woman.

The Crown is proceeding by direct indictment, filed in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice on Thursday, in the case against Dellen Millard and Mark Smich, who are each accused of first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Laura Babcock.

Police allege she was killed on or around July 3 or 4, 2012 and had been romantically linked to Millard.

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Skipping the preliminary trial is a rare legal move in Ontario.

According to a Crown policy manual on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website, “this power is an extraordinary one and is used infrequently.” 

The final decision on proceeding directly to trial rests with the attorney general or the deputy attorney general.

Millard’s lawyer, Ravin Pillay, said a direct indictment is rare and two separate direct indictments against one individual on two separate first-degree murder charges is unprecedented.

“We are disappointed with this development and will consider whatever recourse is available to redress what we feel is a regrettable denial of due process,” Pillay said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Smich’s lawyer, Thomas Dungey, could not be reached for comment.

Millard and Smich are also heading directly to trial in January in the death of Tim Bosma, a Hamilton man who went missing in May 2013 after taking two men for a test drive in his truck.

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Bosma’s charred remains were found on Millard’s farm nearly two weeks later.

Babcock went missing the previous summer, but wasn’t declared dead until police laid charges against Millard and Smich in 2014. Police have refused to tell her family if they’ve found her body or her remains.

Her family and former boyfriend filed a missing persons report shortly after she disappeared in 2012. After Millard’s name surfaced in news reports when he was charged in Bosma’s death in May 2013, Babcock’s former boyfriend, Shawn Lerner, went public with information he said he provided police at the time she went missing.

According to her phone bill that Lerner showed news organizations, Babcock’s final eight calls were to Millard’s cellphone. There were no more calls after July 3, 2012.

Millard, the heir to an aviation empire, is also charged in the death of his father, Wayne Millard, which was initially deemed a suicide.

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Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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