‘I didn’t murder anyone’: accused in Lukas Strasser-Hird swarming death

Five men charged in the swarming death of Calgary 18-year-old Lukas Strasser-Hird. Global News

The lengthy trial in the swarming death of Lukas Strasser-Hird continued Wednesday with one of the accused, Assmar Shlah, taking the stand in his defence.

The Crown’s theory is that Shlah instigated a fight that led to Strasser-Hird being beaten and stabbed to death in the alley behind Calgary’s Vinyl nightclub.

Strasser-Hird was beaten, kicked and stabbed outside of a southwest Calgary bar on Nov. 23, 2013. He died several hours later in hospital.

Shlah, Franz Cabrera, Jordan Liao and Joch Pouk are all on trial, accused of the second-degree murder of the 18-year-old. A fifth man – Nathan Gervais – is charged with first-degree murder. He went missing weeks before the trial and a warrant remains out for his arrest.

READ MORE: Canada-wide warrant issued for Calgary man accused in Lukas Strasser-Hird swarming death

Shlah claimed he was sucker-punched before a “football scrum-like” dispute began. He said he then threw two punches then backed off, and said he felt dizzy and had blood “gushing” from his nose.

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After a dispute with bar staff when trying to retrieve his jacket, an altercation broke out.

After the incident in front of the club, Shlah testified he went to the back alley where he tripped and fell, scraping the palms of his hands. That’s when he said he saw a commotion and approached the group to find his friend. Shlah said he saw Strasser-Hird lying on the ground, bleeding.

“He was slouched over,” Shlad said. “I didn’t know anybody in the alley — I didn’t recognize anyone. I had no idea (that Strasser-Hird had been stabbed).”

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage of the Lukas Strasser-Hird case

Shlah testified he didn’t lay a hand or a foot on the victim, and just wanted to leave with his friend when he was arrested by police for assault.

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“’Why am I under arrest? I’m the one who’s been assaulted.’ And then I pointed to my injuries,” Shlah recalled telling arresting officers.

READ MORE: ‘I couldn’t do anything about it’ – Friend of Lukas Strasser-Hird witnessed swarming attack

Shlah told court he was unaware anyone had been killed, and was “shocked” when he was told he was being charged with second-degree murder.

“I started to cry… I can’t even explain the feeling to you. Being the one who was punched and then finding out you’re being arrested for murder.”

A video of the interview between Shlah and Calgary Police Det. Clark Budd was shown in court, and it depicts the exchange.

“What, dead? No. Oh my goodness. Someone is dead? Me? I didn’t murder anyone,” Shlah said as he cried in the video.

READ MORE: ‘It’s a horror story in there,’ father says as Strasser-Hird swarming trial enters 5th week

During cross examination, Shlah admitted to being an avid soccer player and said “kicking a ball is second nature” to him.

At the time of his arrest, Shlah’s shoes were soaked in blood, though he claimed he was unaware of that until reaching the police station.

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The Crown adamantly addressed discrepancies between Shlah’s initial police statement given on the night of the alleged offences, and those given the following month, including details about who he came with, who he was with in the alley, and who instigated the fight.

“It wasn’t until they started yelling and swearing at me that I came over… I wasn’t the instigator,” Shlah stated.

Shlah maintained he had a better recollection of the events after he had time to think.

“After you had time to concoct the story,” the Crown countered.

“Some time to recollect thoughts, yes. I never lied to the police,” Shlah said.

The court will hear closing arguments Thursday.

READ MORE: Calgary man involved in swarming death of Lukas Strasser-Hird testifies against former friends

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