Millard’s texts reveal savagery, self-absorption, lack of empathy: DiManno
Dellen Millard had grown weary of the burden that Babcock had become. “From her dealings with me . . . she really is mentally ill . . . but mental illness is no defence,” he told Christina Noudga. “I’m going to hurt her.”
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It’s not just that they were all tangled up in ruinous lies.
Who loves whom and who’s sleeping with whom and who’s seducing whom — like characters in a trashy pulp novel.
The outright savagery and self-absorption — complete lack of empathy — is what drips like poison from the social media record.
Before one of them ended up dead, another charged with first-degree murder, and a third, well, she’s an elusive protagonist, a peek-a-boo presence flitting across the slag heap of evidence at a trial now into its third week.
There’s been no indication that the Crown intends to call Christina Noudga to testify, a curious strategic decision.
But she’s certainly in the courtroom, in spirit and in bile.
Noudga, who, the jury has heard, sent a skanky text message to Laura Babcock a couple of months before the 23-year-old was last seen alive, boasting about the first time she’d had sex with Dellen Millard — on the evening, a year previously, of Babcock’s birthday party.
And from the there, the prosecution maintains, were sown the seeds of murder, because two mutually hostile women — Babcock, the girlfriend past; Noudga, the girlfriend present — were engaged in a toxic wrangle for Millard’s affections, an accused who has described himself in court as chronically, unrepentantly unfaithful. A man who, says the Crown, killed Babcock because she had become too much of an aggravation, threatening his relationship with Noudga.
“Did you have sex with Laura?” Noudga demands to know, in a text message sent to Millard on April 16, 2012.
Noudga: “Are you being honest?”
A useless question to put to her feckless boyfriend, as even Noudga must have known by that point in their relationship, as all the principle players — these three and an assortment of their clique insiders — coupled and uncoupled and gossiped endlessly about each other, lurid bulletins zinging back and forth. Because that’s where they appeared to really live their lives out loud, in internecine around-the-clock dispatches, using a fistful of phones and avatar designations.
Millard insisted he hadn’t been intimate with Babcock since long before he became involved with Noudga, years before, when they’d dated briefly and remained friends afterwards.
“I have higher standards than Laura,” Millard assured, vainly.
Noudga remained troubled and upset.
“She actually managed to annoy me to the point where my blood pressure went up. I was all shaken and heart pounding.’’
It’s unclear which incident Noudga was referring to specifically. But the jury has heard that Babcock responded to Noudga’s birthday shot with a tit-for-tat “that’s fine, I slept with him a couple of weeks ago.”
Babcock, who disappeared just after Canada Day, 2012 — her body has never been found and the Crown says Millard burned it in an incinerator with co-accused wingman Mark Smich — had spent the previous months couch-surfing, at odds with her parents and working for an escort service. Court has heard she’d been suffering from mental illness and had been variously diagnosed as bipolar, depressive and a borderline personality.
Millard, according to texts, had grown weary of the burden that Babcock had become. “From her dealings with me, I pity her . . . she really is mentally ill . . . but mental illness is no defence,” he told Noudga. “I’m going to hurt her.”
Allegedly, he meant that literally.
“I’m just telling her, you know, she knows your p---- smells better than hers.”
Every act of kindness, he complained, had drawn him only further into Babcock’s psychosis and his patience had run out.
Noudga was even more fed up with the whole psychodrama, although simultaneously — from the tone of her texts — revelling in it.
“F--k, she’s like a virus, like herpes. Always there but only shows up once in a while with a whole lot of annoying lesions.”
Millard: “There’s a difference. Herpes you can’t really get rid of. It just feeds off you until you die. First I’m going to hurt her, then I’ll make her leave.”
A few weeks later, in a middle-of-the-night exchange, Millard and Noudga returned to their favourite metaphors, likening Babcock to a “parasite,” and that “removal of the parasite” should accelerate riddance of her.
Noudga was only slightly conflicted — it’s not clear she grasped malice intent as a reality — but also rather thrilled by it.
“I don’t know but when you say things . . . I feel really loved and warm inside. It’s not cause I’m sinister or sadistic and want her hurt. It’s just, I don’t know how to explain it, it feels like you want to protect me and I feel safe, in a sense.”
Many of these implicating social media missives had already been referenced by the prosecution and recounted by earlier witnesses. But on Wednesday, Crown attorney Ken Lockhart went through the material methodically — a trove of texts and messages, data retrieved from three computers seized by police at Millard’s home, which included backup copies of his phone texts. Much of the correspondence had been erased but Jim Falconer, recently retired detective sergeant with the OPP’s technical crime unit, indicated that recovering nearly all of them off the hard drive hadn’t been difficult.
For hour upon hour, Falconer provided a forensic narrative, reading each message out loud, noting the phone numbers from which they originated and the phone numbers which received them, the date and the time.
Footprints we leave behind.
From inside that hoard emerged compelling evidence that Babcock, whatever her mental health issues, was not the crazy girl, the stalker, as she’d been depicted in exchanges between Millard and Noudga.
It had been established, already, that Millard was having sex with Babcock — however insignificant the intimacy had been to him — during those months, after her breakup with boyfriend Shawn Lerner, when she was clearly feeling fragile and lost.
Babcock had written to Millard in December: “He wants to end it. We aren’t officially over but now all these thoughts are here . . . I love Shawn. He’s my best friend. I feel sometimes I want other people. But I always want Shawn . . . . My anxiety level is abnormally high.”
Later, after they’d definitively called it quits: “Oh well. I’m out. Wooohoo. F--k, I wanna get laid.’’
And: “I want you to hurt me as you f--k me.”
Millard was at least initially cool to the idea.
“Going to Naked F--ksville with you not happening. Don’t get me wrong, it would be fun. I just don’t want the drama that would come out of it.”
But he did embrace the drama, after all.
“Did you tell her?” Babcock afterwards asked, meaning Noudga. “I assume so since you’re so open with each other.”
Millard: “Tell what to who?”
In those final months, Laura Babcock was living slapdash, haphazardly. She was using drugs heavily and, with her engaging personality, coaxing many kindnesses from many strangers. She bragged to Millard — and this was probably a fanciful invention — about having taken up with a rich guy and that they were maybe getting married; she was supposed to pick out an expensive ring.
A part of her still believed in happy endings. A part of her believed in Dellen Millard.
“You already know, but I really do love you,
Millard wrote back: “Love is a wonderful & terrible thing. I am thankful for your feelings. It would be better for you if you found someone else to love.”