Over scotch and beers at a Winnipeg pub, panicked murder suspect Allan Shyback looked to the man he believed was one of his closest friends for advice after Calgary police said they wanted to search the home where he'd hidden his common-law wife's body.
"As soon as I stopped waiting for it to happen, it all crashed," Shyback told his friend, referring to the police coming after him.
That friend, however, was an undercover police officer who'd spent 12 months building a relationship with Shyback.
Shyback, 40, is on trial in Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary, charged with second-degree murder and causing an indignity to a body in the death of Lisa Mitchell. The Calgary mom, who was 31, was last seen alive in October 2012.
Two undercover officers
A year-long police sting launched in 2013 ended with Shyback's confession to two different undercover officers.
At the trial, court heard recorded conversations between Shyback and the undercover officer who were in Winnipeg in December 2014.
The meeting occurred after the accused received a phone call from a Calgary detective telling him Mitchell's case was now considered a homicide and officers wanted to search his home.
The phone call did exactly what police wanted: spooked Shyback into confessing to his "friend."
Shyback admitted to attacking Mitchell during a heated argument when she lunged at him with a knife. He told the undercover officer he found his hands around her neck and "then she was gone."
Instead of calling police, Shyback said he put Mitchell's body in a plastic bin in the corner of his basement and then poured concrete over the container, creating a homemade cement tomb.
Plans to flee
Earlier in the trial, medical examiner Dr. Jeffery Gofton testified Mitchell was likely strangled based on a fractured thyroid cartilage in her neck, but said her fatal injuries could have been inflicted almost instantly.
In the pub, Shyback and the undercover officer discussed what to do next. He tells the officer he doesn't think anyone will believe him.
"I still don't believe that anybody is ever going to believe me, especially if it goes to court ... especially now because I did that, I hid it."
In the recorded conversation played in court on Friday, Shyback can he heard telling the officer he believed he had three options: hire a lawyer, create an explosion and fire at his home to keep police from finding Mitchell's body, or flee the country with his kids.
The officer tells Shyback it's not the right time to call a lawyer. Instead he suggests he can help Shyback get out of the country.
"I might just know some of the right people to make it happen," the undercover officer says.
'Delaying the inevitable'
Over the months where the two built a friendship, Shyback told the officer that Mitchell had been verbally and physically abusive towards him and verbally abusive with their children.
Under cross-examination, the officer told defence lawyer Balfour Der that Shyback "cared for his children a lot."
Shyback lived in subsidized housing, had very little social life, was in financial trouble and constantly worried about his kids. The officer said he played on those weaknesses as he built the relationship and elicited the confession.
"I was using just about anything I could to keep him engaged," said the officer.
As Shyback confided in the man he believed to be one of his closest friends, he expressed regret that he'd hidden the body and kept such a heavy secret for more than two years.
"I think all I was doing was delaying the inevitable," he said.
Prosecutors Jayme Williams and Healther Morris' final witness is "Mr. Big" — the undercover officer who took Shyback's final confession, ending the operation and resulting in the arrest. His testimony will wrap up on Monday.
It is unknown whether Der and his co-counsel, Eleanor Funk, will call Shyback to testify once the Crown rests its case.
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