Two men were found guilty this week by a Canadian jury and face life in prison for killing Laura Babcock more than five years ago. Though the 23-year-old Toronto woman’s remains were never found, prosecutors presented a convincing argument for the suspected manner of death.
Jurors heard that one of the convicted men, 32-year-old Dellen Millard, was dating a woman engaged in an ongoing argument with the victim in the months leading up to her death, according to the Huffington Post.
A text message he sent to the woman was a key piece of evidence presented at trial.
“First I’m going to hurt her,” his message stated. “Then I’ll make her leave. I will remove her from our lives.”
During trial, the defendant excused his rhetoric as merely an appeasement to his girlfriend, claiming he was not personally involved in the women’s spat.
Two days after he communicated with the victim via text message, though, Millard bought a gun from another individual, according to the seller’s testimony.
As the National Post reported, prosecutors argued that Millard and 30-year-old Mark Smich formulated a plan for Babcock’s murder months prior to the crime.
The two conspired to get rid of her remains by burning her body in an animal incinerator, according to evidence presented at trial. The stove in question was located on Millard’s property.
While he claimed the incinerator was necessary equipment for a pet cremation business he was launching with his uncle, the would-be business partner testified that he had made no such “absurd” plans with his nephew.
According to court testimony, Millard sent Smich an image of a tarp wrapped around an object prosecutors argued was the victim’s body.
Photos taken later with Millard’s cellphone show a seemingly satisfied Smich standing in front of the stove as well as close-up shots of what appear to be bones inside.
Both men were previously convicted of first-degree murder for the 2013 death of a man whose remains were found in the same incinerator, according to CP24.
Smich also wrote and performed a profane rap verse about a crime similar to the one he and Millard were accused of committing:
“The bitch started off all skin and bone,
Now the bitch lay on some ash stone,
Last time I saw her was outside the home,
And if u go swimming u can find her phone”
Two witnesses testified that he told them the lyrics were based on actual events.
Babcock had become homeless shortly before her death, according to reports, and was using drugs in the wake of a mental illness diagnosis.
Defense attorneys largely focused on the fact that prosecutors could not produce a body or otherwise prove Babcock was actually dead. Millard said prior to the jury’s decision that he would appeal a guilty verdict.
[Featured image: Dellen Millard, Laura Babcock, Mark Smich/Handouts]