A man charged with first-degree murder said a few days after the disappearance of a father he is accused of killing that he felt badly for the victim's family, his trial heard Monday.
In testimony in Ontario Superior Court, Shane Schlatman said Dellen Millard texted him three days after Tim Bosma vanished to express sympathy with what "that family" was going through.
Millard, heir to the aviation company Millardair started by his grandfather, was referring to the Bosmas, Schlatman testified.
Bosma, of Ancaster, Ont., had disappeared on the night of May 6, 2013, after taking two strangers on a test drive of the black Dodge Ram pickup truck he was trying to sell. His body was found more than a week later, burned beyond recognition.
About 30 minutes after the first text, Millard texted Schlatman again about the truck.
"I want to take it back, but I'm a little concerned out how that's going to play out," Millard wrote at 10:22 p.m. on Thursday May 9, 2013.
Schlatman told court he hadn't talked to Millard about the vehicle, which was in the company's hangar.
Yet, he texted Millard back, saying, "Ya. That's a tough call man. Have you considered goin to cops? Tell em ya bought this truck but you think its warm."
"I told him that because I thought he got into a stolen truck," Schlatman testified.
Millard responded: "Hypothetically — if this is the same one, I'm in a lot of jeopardy. What truck?"
"What does that mean?" asked Crown attorney Craig Fraser.
"I assumed he was playing dumb," Schlatman said.
Schlatman said he found out the truck belonged to Bosma from his father-in-law, who also worked at Millardair. Arthur Jennings testified last month that he thought the truck looked like one he saw on news reports about Bosma's disappearance. Jennings testified he snapped a picture of the vehicle identification number and called Crime Stoppers, who told him about its owner.
Asked why he didn't question Millard about Bosma's whereabouts, Schlatman said it didn't cross his mind that his employer might have had anything to do with Bosma's disappearance.
"The Dellen Millard I know is a rich guy," Schlatman told court. "He's a nice guy. I would never have connected him with this."
Millard of Toronto, and co-accused Mark Smich, of Oakville, Ont., have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in Bosma's death.
Schlatman identified Millard and Smich in a security video from the Millardair hangar taken hours after Bosma disappeared from his home. After being identified, Millard waved at his former employee.
The video shows a tall man and a shorter man walking through the hangar at 1:42 a.m. on May 7, 2013. A dog follows them. The dog was Pedo, who Millard had taken from the streets of Mexico, court heard.
Millard also told Schlatman to strip Bosma's truck to prepare it for a paint job, the witness said.
The Crown alleges Bosma was shot at point-blank range inside his truck and his body burned in a large animal incinerator, called The Eliminator.
Schlatman told court about purchasing The Eliminator after he failed to build a homemade version in 2012. He said his boss had a lot of garbage from his properties and wanted some way of getting rid quickly and cheaply.
"It didn't work very well," Schlatman said of his effort. Instead, Millard bought The Eliminator.
Bosma's truck was eventually found at Millard's mother's house north of Toronto. The incinerator was found at a farm Millard owned near Waterloo, Ont.
Blood inside the truck and on the outside of the incinerator was likely Bosma's — with the odds of his being someone else's pegged by one forensic scientist at one in 18 quadrillion.