Calgary man who killed common-law wife guilty of manslaughter
Allan Shyback strangled Lisa Mitchell to death following an altercation with a knife. He then hid her body in a plastic container cemented in their basement
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A man accused of second-degree murder in the strangulation death of his common-law wife was found guilty Thursday morning of the lesser offence of manslaughter.
Allan Shyback, 40, was charged with second-degree murder and improperly interfering with human remains in the 2012 strangulation death of his common-law wife Lisa Mitchell—whose body he subsequently hid in a plastic container entombed in cement in the basement of their home.
Justice Rosemary Nation read her decision in court Thursday and said she found Shyback guilty of improperly interfering with human remains, but not of second-degree murder, instead, finding him guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.
The victim’s mother, Peggy Mitchell said she’s glad it’s over, and although disappointed it wasn’t a second-degree murder conviction, she thinks the judge made the right decision based on the evidence.
“It’s over, it’s done, we can get on with our lives,” she said. “I was satisfied with the decision and that was the best we could hope for. We’re just glad it’s over and Lisa can be at peace.”
Peggy said what bothers her the most is Shyback’s efforts to cover it up.
“The lying he did for two years, especially to the children—that to me is unacceptable. He should get life just for that,” she said, adding that the kids who now live with her are "awesome" and thriving.
During the trial Shyback testified that he’d choked Mitchell in self-defence after she lunged at him with a knife. He said he then acted in a panic when he hid her body for fear of not being believed and that his children might be taken away.
A “Mr. Big” sting operation was launched in 2013, in which Shyback was befriended by a number of undercover police officers, and ultimately resulted in his 2014 confession and arrest.
Nation said Shyback’s self-defence argument failed. She said Shyback’s use of force was subjectively and objectively reasonable until the couple fell the ground and Mitchell became “clearly overpowered,” no longer had a knife in her hand and Shyback continued “using force that was more than necessary.”
Further, Nation said Shyback’s reaction to the offence was “detailed and calculated,” and said although his previous experiences with law enforcement made his initial reluctance to call police understandable, his continued cover-up of the offence – including sending a slew of emails and texts from Mitchell’s accounts and splicing together recordings of previous phone calls to make a fake voicemail from Mitchell— was “not all taken in panic.”
Following the decision, Shyback’s defence lawyer, Balfour Der said on one hand his client was relieved not to be charged with murder, but he continues to feel remorse and guilt that Mitchell died at his hands.
“He’s agonizing over that part, but he’s certainly relieved he’s not guilty of murder,” he said.
Der said he and his client recognize that the optics of what occurred after Mitchell’s death was quite serious.
Crown prosecutor Jayme Williams said she’s pleased Shyback was found guilty of unlawfully causing death. Williams thanked the Calgary police for their work and said she thought the undercover operation was done exceptionally well.
Nation will sentence Shyback on Sept. 20. Victim impact statements will also be heard on that day.