TORONTO – Objects that look like human bones can be seen in a photograph of a large incinerator allegedly used by two men to burn the body of a young woman they’re accused of killing, a Toronto court heard Friday.
Forensic anthropologist Tracy Rogers, an expert in identifying human remains and the effects of burning on human bones, told the jury hearing the case of Laura Babcock that what’s seen in the image appears to be bones from a human arm.
“Based on the shape comparison, one is similar overall to the human humerus, the upper arm bone,” Rogers said. “One looks similar in overall shape and size to a human radius, the end close to the wrist.”
Rogers said, however, that she cannot be certain because she was only able to examine a photograph.
The image was recovered from the computer of Dellen Millard, who, along with Mark Smich, has been charged with first-degree murder in Babcock’s death. The 23-year-old woman disappeared in the summer of 2012 and her body has not been found.
The Crown alleges Millard, 32, and Smich, 30, killed Babcock and burned her body in a massive animal incinerator — named The Eliminator — that was later found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.
The prosecution contends the pair murdered Babcock because she was the odd woman out in a love triangle with Millard and his girlfriend, Christina Noudga.
Millard, who is representing himself, has said he didn’t care about the animosity between the two women, who witnesses say were both sleeping with Millard at the same time.
Both Millard and Smich have pleaded not guilty.
In her examination of the photograph of the incinerator’s interior — which court heard was taken with Millard’s iPhone at 11:20 p.m. on July 23, 2012 — Rogers was asked to compare the bones in the image to those of a deer.
Rogers, who court heard has worked on numerous murder cases, including identifying human and animal bones from serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm in British Columbia, said she was able to take measurements of the bones from the photograph.
They were similar in size and shape to that of a human female, she said, and substantially different from deer bones.
Court has heard that Millard ordered the incinerator — capable of cremating a 225-kilogram animal — in the days before Babcock disappeared.
The trial has also seen text messages from Millard that show he promised to hurt Babcock and “make her leave.”
Babcock’s family and friends have testified they haven’t heard from her since July 2012.