Cross-examination of suspect in wife’s death

Accused defended his actions

CALGARY — A man who has admitted to strangling his wife and to entombing her body with cement in the basement of their home says he’s responsible for her death, but that doesn’t make him a murderer.

Allan Shyback defended his actions Tuesday during a cross-examination in which the Crown attempted to poke holes in his testimony that the fatal encounter between him and Lisa Mitchell occurred after years of his suffering domestic abuse.

Shyback, 40, is charged with second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body in the death of 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.

Under pressure from Crown prosecutor Jayme Williams, Shyback said he was trying to protect himself from a knife attack.

“Yes. I was responsible for her death. That is a fact,” he acknowledged. ”We struggled. We fought. It was an accident, but, yes, if I hadn’t been fighting with her … she wouldn’t have died.

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

In his testimony Monday, Shyback detailed a number of domestic abuse instances during their almost 10-year relationship. He said Mitchell once hit him with a mirror while he was bending down. 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

Williams suggested Shyback had experienced one abusive encounter that he had written about in a journal he kept as part of his counselling, but never mentioned or wrote about any others.

The prosecutor quoted from Shyback’s journal.

“In all honesty the physical abuse was tolerable outside of that one particular instance which resulted in nerve damage to my left arm. In fact, that aspect of things was minor in comparison,” Williams read.

“You’ll agree with me — you don’t say anything about these other two instances of abuse that you’ve noted while you were on the stand testifying,” Williams said.

“No, I did not,” answered Shyback.

Williams pointed to other testimony from Shyback about him becoming ill when living in his truck for several months.

“Actually, oddly enough, one of the people who helped you the most when you were sick was Lisa Mitchell, wasn’t she?” asked Williams.

“Yes, she was,” Shyback replied.

“You got sick and you describe Lisa as basically saving your life.”

“Yes, she did.”

Shyback’s cousin, Meghan Castle, testified that she had seen and heard Mitchell chastising Shyback at a family gathering in 2011 because he hadn’t brought the right boots for their son.

“She was yelling at him for not bringing the right boots. She was yelling at him for being ill-prepared. She was yelling at him for making her look bad,” Castle recalled.

“He went to move away from the vehicle and she pushed him back into the vehicle. She continued to push him around his neck and his head kept hitting the side of the vehicle. He just stood there. I never heard him say anything.”

Castle said the couple quickly returned to the house.

“I wanted to talk with him. I made eye contact with him. He just shook his head at me like he wasn’t going to talk about it.”

Final arguments in the case are scheduled for Thursday.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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