TORONTO — The murder case of a young woman whose body has not been found hinges upon a “large and complex” body of circumstantial evidence, a Toronto judge said Thursday as he instructed the jury.
Laura Babcock, a troubled 23-year-old Toronto woman, vanished five years ago.
Two men — Dellen Millard and Mark Smich — are accused of killing Babcock in July 2012 and burning her body in an animal incinerator.
Justice Michael Code told jurors the circumstantial evidence focuses on two main issues: whether Babcock is dead and whether Millard and Smich caused her death from an unlawful act.
Those are two key elements of murder, he said.
“Facts may be proved by circumstantial evidence,” Code said. ”It is all about inference drawing. You observe some fact and from that fact you draw an inference or conclusion.”
The prosecution alleges Babcock was killed because she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend, Christina Noudga.
Millard, 32, of Toronto and Smich, 30, of Oakville, Ont., have pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charges and both have said the Crown has not proved that Babcock is dead.
The judge hammered home the point multiple times that circumstantial evidence must be looked at in totality, not each piece of evidence in isolation.
He summarized seven key points of circumstantial evidence that came up throughout the seven-week trial: motive, opportunity, evidence of the incinerator and Millard’s handgun purchase, Babcock’s disappearance, her risky lifestyle, the use of the incinerator on July 23, 2012, and statements made by Millard and Smich after the Toronto woman disappeared.
The judge quickly went through the evidence that came up during the trial and expects to go through it thoroughly again on Friday.