'Public interest' exists to see Dellen Millard tried for murder again, expert says
The Crown plans to prosecute Dellen Millard a third time, for his father's death. He is already facing two life sentences.
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Should Millard be tried a third time for murder?
Dellen Millard has now twice been found guilty of first-degree murder, and received two life sentences, which means he could conceivably not be eligible to apply for parole until he is in his 80s.
Nevertheless, the Crown plans to prosecute the 32-year-old for his father’s 2012 death, originally ruled a suicide, after two different juries convicted him and his friend, Mark Smich, for the murders of Tim Bosma and Laura Babcock.
The Ministry of the Attorney General would offer no reason for proceeding with the third, first-degree murder prosecution, set to begin in March.
“As this matter is currently before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment,” a ministry spokeswoman wrote in an email Monday.
There are examples of other notorious killers not facing additional murder trials.
In 2011, the Crown elected not to prosecute Toronto gang leader Tyshan Riley with two outstanding murder charges after he was convicted of first-degree murder and three attempted murders. The prosecutor told the court it was “one of the most difficult decisions the Crown law office has ever made,” while a judge called it a fair and reasonable “exercise in discretion.”
A year earlier, prosecutors in British Columbia decided not to prosecute pig farmer Robert Pickton with 20 remaining murder charges after he had been convicted of killing six women.
Ryan Handlarski, a Toronto defence lawyer who isn’t involved in the Millard case, is hoping the Crown will follow the logic and abandon its third prosecution.
“It seems to me that he’s (Millard) relishing the attention, it’s giving him a platform and a stage,” Handlarski said Monday, noting Millard was self-represented.
If Superior Court Justice Michael Code sentences Millard to two consecutive 25-year parole ineligibility periods, that could keep him locked up for at least another 50 years, and even then he might not get out.
“We’re talking about a person who already almost certainly will serve the rest of his . . . life in prison. From a practical point of view I don’t see the reason to prosecute him,” Handlarski said.
The former federal Conservative government enacted legislation at the end of 2011 enabling judges to impose consecutive 25-year parole ineligibility periods on individuals convicted of more than one first-degree murder. Previously, multiple murderers served their period of parole ineligibility concurrently, so they could apply after serving 25 years.
Veteran Toronto defence lawyer David Butt, who has represented accused killers and also prosecuted them as a former Crown attorney, says Millard receiving the extended parole ineligibility period is one reason not to put him on trial again.
Yet Butt sees the other side of the argument relating to the “broader conceptions of public interest beyond public safety.”
The Crown will want to get “to the bottom of a mysterious death” while also holding Millard accountable for Wayne Millard’s death, originally thought to be a suicide, said Butt, who isn’t involved in the case.
“I think there is an institutional interest driving this, which is part of the public interest, ‘you know you fooled us, we’re going to re-examine this and send that message that people who try to fool us in this way, we’re going to pursue aggressively.’”
In Ontario, the Crown is obliged to weigh every prosecution and proceed only when there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and if it’s in the public interest, in that order, Butt added.
Sonya Shikhman, another Toronto defence lawyer who is not involved in the case, said the Crown will also be weighing the fact Millard can appeal his two convictions, which could potentially be overturned.
“To preserve court resources, the Crown could wait until after the appeals and then not prosecute if the appeals are dismissed,” she wrote in email. However, this approach presents a difficulty for the Crown.
“The Crown cannot unilaterally choose to delay the trial. To wait until the appeals are finalized the Crown would need Millard to waive his rights,” to be tried within a reasonable time.
Shikhman can also think of another “more philosophical” reason that the Crown wants another crack at Millard.
“Every victim deserves to have a trial and a finding of wrongdoing against them — a vindication of sort.”