HAMILTON – Two Ontario men have been found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Tim Bosma, who disappeared three years ago after leaving home with two strangers on a test drive in a truck he was trying to sell online.
Gasps of relief rang out in the Hamilton courtroom Friday as Justice Andrew Goodman read the verdict against Dellen Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 28, of Oakville, who had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Bosma’s family members, including his widow, Sharlene Bosma, sobbed and turned to each other in comfort and support as they listened to the verdict, which followed five days of jury deliberations.
The conviction carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years. The judge is expected to formally read out the sentence later on Friday.
The disappearance of the 32-year-old father on May 6, 2013 made headlines across Canada and sparked a massive week-long search that saw more than 100 police officers scouring Millard’s farm and airport hangar.
Millard, the heir to an aviation empire, was arrested before Bosma’s charred remains were found. Smich was arrested more than a week later, just hours before a memorial service that saw hundreds pay tribute to the Hamilton man.
But even with their two suspects in custody, police said at the time they were struggling to establish a motive for the killing.
Prosecutors have alleged Millard and Smich — then a drug dealer — planned for more than a year to steal a truck, kill its owner and incinerate the body.
The trial, which began hearing evidence on Feb. 1, has pitted the two former friends against each other as each man said the other had carried out the fatal shooting.
Smich, who was the only accused to take the stand, told court they were “scoping” out trucks Millard wanted to steal when they went on the test drive.
With his friend at the wheel and Bosma in the passenger seat, Smich testified that he got out of the truck early on and followed the two men in Millard’s truck.
It was only after they both got out of their trucks at the side of the road that Smich saw Bosma slumped on the dashboard, with blood splattered everywhere and a bullet hole in the passenger window, he told the court.
Shocked and terrified, Smich said he followed Millard’s orders and helped burn Bosma’s body in an animal incinerator dubbed “The Eliminator” and strip and clean the truck.
Millard’s lawyer Ravin Pillay gave an entirely different account, laying blame for the murder at Smich’s feet.
In his closing arguments, Pillay argued that Smich, desperate for money, pulled a gun on Bosma, who was fatally shot by accident as he tried to fend off his attacker.
Millard, Pillay said, feared he’d be blamed for the death and helped his friend cover it up.
Jurors heard from more than 90 witnesses, including a man who went on a test drive with the pair a day before Bosma disappeared and whose description helped police link the two men to the case.
Forensic experts said the slain man’s blood was found throughout his truck and on the outside of the incinerator, which was found on Millard’s farm near Waterloo, Ont.