Dellen Millard's employee and right hand man Shane Schlatman lied to police to protect his boss, according to a tense cross examination from the legal team representing Millard's co-accused in the trial of two men charged with murder in the death of Hamilton man Tim Bosma.
When police came calling asking about the case, Schlatman wasn't immediately forthcoming with key details, the jury heard. When investigators asked him about the location of Millard's red Dodge pickup truck, he didn't tell them where it was.
Court has already heard Schlatman helped Millard move it to a friend's home after Bosma vanished.
Millard, 30, of Toronto, and Mark Smich, 28, of Oakville, Ont., are on trial in Ontario Superior Court accused of killing Bosma. Both have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
"So you lied to the police?" said Smich's lawyer Thomas Dungey during his cross-examination of Schlatman.
"In the beginning, yes I did," Schlatman said.
It was then that Dungey read a statement Schlatman made to police: "All right, so yes, the red truck, I do know where it is ... he made me move it."
Bosma, 32, lived in the suburban Ancaster area of Hamilton and was last seen taking two men on a test drive of a truck he had for sale on May 6, 2013.
Police also questioned Schlatman about a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a Bobcat tractor found inside the Waterloo, Ont. hangar — both of which investigators believed were stolen, court heard. That line of questioning opened up some of the most heated exchanges the jury has seen in the two months since the trial started.
"My understanding is they had been stolen," Schlatman said. Millard's legal team has often pointed out a host of vehicles being stored inside the hangar as an indication of their client's wealth.
Didn't contact police
Dungey also asked about Schlatman's ability as a trained mechanic to take the ignition out of a vehicle and start it without a key.
"These were things Mr. Millard would have learned from you, right?" Dungey asked. Schlatman responded yes, he would have shown Millard to do "basic automotive work," but not hot-wiring, he testified.
"Did you have any knowledge as to these vehicles and as to where they really came from?" Dungey asked. "No sir," Schlatman said.
He repeatedly said that because Millard was rich, it didn't surprise him that vehicles would just show up at the hangar without explanation — which happened with some regularity.
Court previously heard from Schlatman's father-in-law, Arthur Jennings, who called Crime Stoppers about Bosma's truck when he saw it in the hangar.
Jennings recognized the truck from seeing it on the news, he said, and called the police tip line. He then found out the truck's VIN number matched Bosma's — a fact he later told his son-in-law.
'To hell with Bosma, right?'
Dungey pressed Schlatman about why he didn't call police about the truck once he learned about its origins. Schlatman said he "didn't think it was important" as his father-in-law had already alerted authorities.
"Maybe I didn't do everything the way I should have," Schlatman said.
"Mr. Schlatman, you didn't do anything," Dungey shot back. His voice rising, Dungey yelled at Schlatman that he was only in court to "protect" his employer.
"Your loyalty is [to Millard], so the hell with Bosma, right?" Dungey yelled.
"No sir, it was not like that," Schlatman said, as he turned redder in the witness box.
Fingerprint expert testifies
Firearms expert Jennifer Plath also testified about the spent shell casing that was found inside Bosma's truck, and the photos found on devices seized in connection to the case that appear to show a Walther PPK handgun.
A fingerprint expert previously testified that Millard's fingerprint was a match to a finger in one of the photos with the gun.
"The fired cartridge case [found in Bosma's truck] could have been fired through this pistol," Plath said. She could not, however, definitively say that the gun seen in the photos was real.
"I cannot say whether it is an actual functioning firearm," Plath said. It could be an air gun, or somehow modified, she said.
The only way she could say with certainty is if she examined the weapon itself. No gun was ever recovered.
CBC reporter Adam Carter is in the courtroom each day reporting live on the trial. You can view a recap of his live blog here:
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