‘It seems to happen in slow motion:’ Murder suspect testifies to fatal encounter

Murder suspect testifies in his own defence

CALGARY — A man suspected of strangling his wife and burying her body in the house they shared says he was the victim of ongoing domestic abuse before a final argument that ended in her death.

Allan Shyback, 40, is on trial for second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body in the death of Lisa Mitchell, 31, who was last seen alive in October 2012.

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

On the witness stand Monday, Shyback detailed a number of domestic abuse instances during their almost 10-year relationship.

Mitchell once hit him with a mirror while he was bending down, he said. On another occasion, Shyback testified, she slapped him across the head while he was putting their son in a car seat. In April 2012, she attacked him with a skillet, he said.

“I couldn’t see myself retaliating to anything like that. It was just too commonplace,” Shyback said under questioning from his lawyer Balfour Der.

“It was just the way she was.”

Shyback said he called police after the skillet attack but was ordered to leave the family home. An attempt to get an emergency restraining order the next day failed.

He said he lived in his truck for five months before he managed to get a new home.

Shyback said the relationship was tumultuous largely due to financial problems and Mitchell’s infidelity. Despite an attempt at reconciliation beginning in July 2012, the relationship deteriorated again and culminated in a fight on Oct. 30, 2012, he told court.

“We couldn’t even get through the morning coffee before we started arguing again. It just kept going and going and going,” he said.

“She picked up a knife that had been sitting on the kitchen table … She proceeded to inform me that … she could stab me. She could leave me bleeding on the floor, call the police and, when they got there, I would be the one who would be arrested.”

Shyback said he found himself trapped in a corner.

“I’m not sure how but I know my right hand did close around her neck. I remember I was pushing hard, trying to get out of the corner I was in and my left hand was trying to push away her right arm.

“I realized that she’s gone. She’s not breathing, she’s not moving, and I’m trying to tell myself to let go and it seems to happen in slow motion,” Shyback continued.

“It was once we were on the ground. It was pretty much one of the first things I became consciously aware of at that point. I was looking at her face and realizing she wasn’t there.”

Shyback said he didn’t call police because he feared they wouldn’t believe him. He started cleaning up and decided to place Mitchell’s body in a Rubbermaid container.

“In the process of doing that, it came to me that she wasn’t going to get angry again. I really became aware of the fact that she was gone and I was in a state of full panic.”

Shyback said he managed to drag the container into the basement. He later cemented it into the wall because there were plumbing problems and he needed to hide her before anyone came in.

“Were you trying to kill Miss Mitchell?” asked Der. 

“No I wasn’t. It would have been the last thing on my mind,” Shyback replied.

“Were you trying to end her life?” Der asked.

“I was trying to protect myself from her and trying to get away from the situation.”

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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