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Calgary man who said he strangled wife and buried body in basement acted in self-defence: lawyer

The defence lawyer for a man who admits he strangled his wife and buried her body in their home says his client acted in self-defence.

Closing arguments are set for today at the second-degree murder trial of Allan Shyback. He is also charged with causing an indignity to the body of Lisa Mitchell, 31, who was last seen alive in Calgary in October 2012.

An undercover “Mr. Big” sting operation was launched in 2013 and ended with Shyback’s confession and arrest in Winnipeg a year later.

Carys Richards/SunMedia
Carys Richards/SunMediaFlowers sit outside a duplex believed to be the home of Lisa Mitchell in the Ogden area of Calgary, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. Allan Shyback made his first court appearance on Tuesday in relation to Mitchell's alleged murder.

During his testimony this week, Shyback told the judge hearing the case alone that he had been the victim of nearly a decade of domestic abuse and that Mitchell had attacked him with a knife the day she died.

“I expect self-defence to be the first defence that will be raised and that can lead to a complete acquittal,” Shyback’s lawyer, Balfour Der, told court Tuesday.

“Failing self-defence we would seek a finding of not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter based on either one of two ways: provocation or through lack of intent.”

Mitchell’s mummified body was found in a Rubbermaid container that had been entombed in cement in the basement of the house she and Shyback shared.

Der said those actions are difficult to defend.

“I’ll tell you that there is no defence raised to the indignity charge. I would expect there would be a finding of guilt.”

The prosecution, in a lengthy cross-examination, attempted to dispute Shyback’s testimony that he had been a domestic abuse victim.

Handout
HandoutCourt exhibit shown during the Domestic murder trial against Allan Shyback, who the Crown says confessed to strangling his common-law wife, Lisa Mitchell and burying her body in their basement

Jayme Williams pointed to the search history on Shyback’s computer.

“What you’re searching is: murder, Canadian law, murder manslaughter, murder Wikipedia,” Williams said to Shyback. “You were specifically researching mitigating factors for murder.”

“I know that several times after the event I would start to look stuff up. I was always concerned that it felt like eventually it was all going to come out,” replied Shyback.

“You tried to learn how the system worked?” asked Williams.

“I tried to learn about what I had to expect,” Shyback said.

Shyback, 40, told court he was trying to protect himself when Mitchell came at him with a knife.

“We struggled. We fought. It was an accident,” he said.

“It makes me responsible, but it doesn’t make me a murderer.”

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