WARNING: Some of the details in this story may be disturbing to some readers.
A Calgary man has admitted to killing his wife, Shannon Madill (Burgess), then burying her in his front yard.
Joshua Burgess pleaded guilty Monday morning to second-degree murder in Madill’s death.
The presiding judge sentenced Burgess to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years, which was the joint sentencing submission by the Crown and defence.
Madill, 25, went missing in November 2014. For seven months, her family held out hope she’d return safely.
Burgess was originally scheduled to go to trial for second-degree murder on Nov. 27, but the matter was put over to Dec. 4 for resolution.
Watch below from August 2016: As Nancy Hixt reports, the court process is once again opening the wounds that were just starting to heal.
An agreed statement of facts read out in court detailed the killing.
Court heard their marriage was ending and both were already dating other people.
Madill was planning to move out, and had a job offer in Edmonton.
She was watching television early in the morning on Nov. 27, 2014 when Burgess came home. The two became intimate on the couch when they started to argue.
Court heard Madill told Burgess she regretted marrying him – and then the argument took a violent turn.
Burgess put his hand on her mouth and she bit his hand. That’s when he got on top of her and strangled her first with his hands then with the belt from his pants.
For seven months, Burgess kept her body in a large plastic bin on his patio. In the spring, he buried her in his front yard.
In July 2015, police showed up at the residence with a search warrant. Burgess refused to answer the door. Officers then contacted him by phone, and that’s when he admitted he killed Madill.
When Burgess eventually came out of the home, he was bleeding from a self-inflicted wound.
Madill’s body was later recovered from the Spiller Road S.E. home she shared with Burgess.
Emotional victim impact statements read in court
Madill’s loved ones cried as they took turns reading victim impact statements in court on Monday.
Her father, David Madill, spoke of wishing he would have prevented the tragedy.
“There was no indication at all on her part that she had any concerns for her safety,” Madill told court.
He also spoke directly to Burgess.
“Today I hope this is the last day I ever see you,” he said.
Lisa Madill, Shannon Madill’s mother, said the loss has broken both her spirit and body.
Family members said they felt betrayed that he lied about her death for so many months — he even joined them at a Calgary police news conference, pleading for information about her disappearance.
“He kept us dangling in limbo for seven horrifying months,” she said.
Burgess himself also addressed the court Monday, apologizing to the Madill family.
Defence lawyer Allan Fay said it was Burgess who insisted on pleading guilty, and said he wanted to save the family from the further trauma of a trial.
“Certainly I believed had there been a trial there was potential that he would have been found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.”
Fay said Burgess has expressed remorse from the very beginning.
As for hiding Madill’s body on the patio, Fay said the subject was discussed at length with a forensic psychologist assigned to the case.
“My own opinion is that in a way he could not bear to part with her… and that was his way of maintaining that,” Fay said.
Outside of court, Madill’s brother Tyler said he doesn’t think Burgess understands the gravity of what he’s put the family through.
“No sentence would ever be sufficient to make up for the loss we’ve endured,” he said.