The defence lawyer for an Auckland man accused of killing his friend in a brutal assault says his client acted in self-defence.
James Grant Cooper is charged with the murder of Javid Mills, whose incomplete skeletal remains were found in a garage in Mt Wellington in September 2011.
Crown prosecutor Anna Pollett told the Auckland High Court on Monday that James Cooper killed the 25-year-old in July 2009 after becoming incensed about money owed to him.
Ms Pollett said the accused buried Javid Mills in a shallow grave on his property and exhumed the remains a year later and destroyed the skull.
The Crown says this was evidence that Mr Cooper was trying to conceal the cause of death and prevent the remains from being identified.
He also posed as the deceased on a social networking site and used Mr Mills' bank card regularly, the court was told.
But Mr Cooper's defence lawyer, Mina Wharepouri, told the court his client acted in self-defence after being attacked by Mr Mills.
In 2012, the accused pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The trial is set down for four weeks.