Cheers and applause erupted outside a Hamilton courtroom Friday after Dellen Millard and Mark Smich were both found guilty of first-degree murder in the slaying of Hamilton’s Tim Bosma.
Outside the courthouse, Bosma’s widow Sharlene thanked the “village” of supporters who have helped her family get through the past three years since her husband disappeared after taking Millard and Smich on a test drive of a truck he was trying to sell.
“For over three years, we have waited for justice for Tim,” she said. “For three years we have been in and out of this courthouse, forced to look at, and breathe in the same space as the utter depths of depravity in our society.
“We have had to endure being near the two men that walked down my driveway on May 6, 2013, and took away the bright light in our lives that was Tim.”
After deliberating since Monday, an Ontario Superior Court jury in Hamilton found Millard and Smich guilty, with the verdicts being read out by the judge shortly after 3 p.m. ET Friday.
Both men have been sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years, or at least until 2038. Millard and Smich are each facing a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Toronto woman Laura Babcock, while Millard has also been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his own father.
If convicted of the other two crimes, Millard would meet the criteria for being considered a serial killer.
Members of the Bosma family gasped and began crying as the decision on Millard’s fate was read out, and followed with more gasps and laughter when Smich’s guilt was announced.
Tears streamed down the face of Sharlene Bosma as she watched the two men who killed her husband being led out of the courtroom.
When the pair were brought back into the courtroom for sentencing, Millard looked right at his victim’s widow and shook his head.
Gasps could be heard in the courtroom, while some of those in the room laughed at his hubris.
Judge calls crime ‘despicable’
Justice Andrew Goodman asked both Millard and Smich if they had anything they wanted to say before sentencing. Both refused.
“What happened to Tim Bosma on the night of May 6, 2013, is incomprehensible and unimaginable,” the judge said, adding that the actions of the two men were “despicable.”
On top of the 25-year prison sentence both convicted murderers are facing, Goodman made an order to prohibit them from owning weapons for life and ordered both to provide officials with DNA samples.
The first-degree murder convictions mean the Crown proved to the jury that Bosma’s murder was planned and deliberate. Both aspects had to be demonstrated in order for the homicide to be considered first-degree murder.
“Tim Bosma was a good man, and he deserved everything we gave.” Assistant Crown attorney Tony Leitch said outside the courthouse, thanking the lawyers, judge, jury and police officers who worked on the case.
Smich plans to appeal, no word on Millard
The trial of Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Smich, 28, of Oakville, lasted 4½ months.
The Crown argued Bosma was shot and killed on May 6, 2013, soon after he left his home with Millard and Smich. His body was later burned in a livestock incinerator.
Before the verdicts were read, Millard was smiling as he sat in the courtroom. He looked Smich up and down in the prisoner’s box, but Smich would not return his gaze.
Millard’s smile vanished after he was found guilty of murder. Smich just stared at the floor.
Smich’s lawyer, Thomas Dungey, said after court ended that there are “very strong grounds for appeal.” Dungey said he chose not to speak to the media after the verdict to allow the Bosma family time to say their piece.
Millard’s lawyers would not comment on whether they will seek an appeal.
Twists and turns
The gruelling trial process saw dozens of twists and turns, as Millard and Smich’s criminal pasts crept out through the testimony of several witnesses.
Andrew Michalski and Matt Hagerman testified about thefts they carried out alongside Millard, sometimes with Smich in tow. The jury heard about an escalating series of crimes where Millard was the driving force, stealing things like a Bobcat tractor and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
‘I’m always going to mourn what we’re never going to have, what were never going to share together.’ – Sharlene Bosma
Some of the trial’s most dramatic testimony came with Smich in the witness box, where he recounted his version of the night Bosma died. He maintained Millard was the shooter and he just helped cover up the slaying.
During cross-examination of Smich by Millard’s legal team, lawyer Nadir Sachak presented Millard’s version of how the murder happened, with Smich as the shooter and Millard helping to cover it up.
The Crown, by contrast, said both men planned to steal the truck, kill Bosma and burn his body from the initial planning stages.
Throughout the trial, the Bosma family sat in court every single day, through brutally graphic testimony and extremely technical legal arguments alike.
Bosma’s widow was 1st witness
Sharlene Bosma was the Crown’s first witness, and once she completed her testimony, she took her place in court, front and centre, where she remained throughout the trial process. She was flanked by her dead husband’s father, Hank, his mother, Mary, and over a dozen other family members and friends who came out daily to show their support.
She was the only member of the family who spoke at the microphone set up outside the courthouse.
“I’m always going to mourn what we’re never going to have, what were never going to share together,” she told reporters and others.
The trial was one of the biggest and most talked about in Hamilton’s history, with spectators lining up for hours outside the courtroom to get a seat inside.
The crowds were so large that shouting matches sometimes broke out in the line, with people arguing over spots. An overflow courtroom with a video feed was used on especially busy days, and even that was full at times.
The Bosma family weathered the storm, hugging each other and praying after they knew Tim’s killers wouldn’t get away with it.
“Although we endure a life sentence in a life without Tim, we have learned collectively to laugh again, to smile, and embrace what we still have.”
“We have memories. Beautiful memories.”
The CBC’s Adam Carter is providing live coverage. You can read a recap of his life blog here. On mobile? View his blog here.
For the full story please visit CBC.ca