TORONTO — A Toronto man accused of killing his father, whose death was originally deemed a suicide, has been found guilty of first-degree murder.
Dellen Millard, 33, had pleaded not guilty in the death of 71-year-old Wayne Millard, who was found in his bed with a bullet to the head on Nov. 29, 2012.
Justice Maureen Forestell, who heard the case without a jury, said Dellen Millard carried out a planned and deliberate murder of his father.
"I am satisfied that Dellen Millard killed his father by shooting him in the left eye as he slept,'' she said, drawing applause from some gathered in a Toronto courtroom on Monday. "I can find no theory consistent with innocence.''
Millard was seen crying softly after Forestell delivered her decision.
The Crown alleged Millard killed his father because millions in potential inheritance money was being squandered on a new aviation business for the family company, Millardair. The defence had argued Wayne Millard's death was a suicide.
The murder trial was the third for Dellen Millard, who has been convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of Toronto woman Laura Babcock and Hamilton man Tim Bosma.
The month-long trial unfolded in June. The Attorney General granted the defence's request for a judge-alone proceeding after agreeing that Millard's notoriety, given the Bosma and Babcock murders, would make it impossible to find fair jurors.
Claimed he had stayed with a friend
The trial heard that Dellen Millard told police he found his father dead in bed around 6 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2012.
He told investigators he last saw his father alive around noon the day before and had stayed the night at his friend Mark Smich's house. Phone records indicate one of Millard's phones moved from Smich's house around 1 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2012, to his father's home where it stayed until shortly after 6 a.m.
"I do not believe the statement of Dellen Millard that he stayed at Mark's,'' Forestell said. "I find it was fabricated to conceal he was involved in the death of his father.''
The trial also heard that Dellen Millard bought a handgun found next to his father's body from a weapons dealer — evidence Forestell accepted.
"I find Dellen Millard purchased the revolver that killed Wayne Millard in July of 2012 and he possessed gun in the months preceding Wayne Millard's death,'' the judge said.
I can find no theory consistent with innocence.Judge Maureen Forestell
Millard chose not to testify in the trial.
Court did hear, however, his nearly hour-long interview with police the day after his father's death in which he told investigators his father was depressed, an alcoholic and under a tremendous amount of stress because of his efforts to turn around the family's aviation business.
"He carried some great sadness with him throughout life that I never knew — he never wanted to share that with me,'' Dellen Millard told police.
Wayne Millard had inherited the family aviation business, Millardair, from his father, Carl Millard, in 2006. It had been launched as a cargo carrier in 1963 and later flew passengers before going bankrupt in 1990, court heard.
The company then rented out aircraft hangars at Toronto's Pearson airport until 2010, when Wayne Millard moved into the maintenance, repair and overhaul business and built a massive, multi-million dollar hangar at the Region of Waterloo International Airport by 2012.
Fired everyone at company days after father's death
The trial heard that Dellen Millard blamed his father for the company's financial issues.
"The last time I spoke to him, I told him the company's financial troubles were his doing and that he was a failure,'' Millard wrote in a text to his girlfriend that was presented in court. `"Usually he tells me not to worry. But this time he said maybe I was right.''
Days after his father's death, Dellen Millard fired everyone at Millardair and wound the business down, court heard.