Former advisor to NDP governments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Charged in 2008 with second degree murder eight years after his wife was found bludgeoned to death in her car in a Selkirk gas station parking lot.
Wife of Mark Stobbe. n October 2000, Beverly Rowbotham was struck in multiple times in the head with a hatchet. body then put in her car and transported to Selkirk, 15 kilometres away and left in a gas station parking lot.
Crown attorney brought in from British Columbia to prosecute the case against Stobbe. He had been a senior adviser in Gary Doer's government at the time of the murder. An outside prosecutor was used to avoid the possibility of conflict of interest. In court Dawson portrayed Stobbe as "evasive," "hostile" and "cunning," and accused him of trying to outsmart counsel as though "it was a bit of a game to him." She spent four days cross-examining him on the stand.
Assistant chief Crown prosecutor with Alberta Justice. Reviewed the file again and concluded: "I am highly suspicious that he did, but without more evidence I am not satisfied we could prove it beyond a reasonable doubt."
Stobbe's lawyer. Appointed to be a provincial court judge earlier this year. Critical of RCMP for continuing to press for arrest of Stobbe after numerous outside reviews stated there was insufficient evidence to convict.
The Crown's "murderous rage" argument was weak. There were tensions in the marriage, but no hint of the kind of fighting and abuse normally associated with a domestic killing. On the contrary, all accounts show Stobbe had a loving relationship with his wife and children and had no money problems.
A young girl who was fundraising that evening talked to the Stobbes outside their house at about 8:45 p.m. and told her mother the couple seemed "nice."
Stobbe's alibi was credible.
There was a ball game on that night and relatives did confirm that he called them that evening.
There were problems with the bicyclist.
Evidence showed there were at least four different bicyclists on the highway that night, but witnesses placed all of them on the road well before the car was deposited in Selkirk.
The forensic evidence was contradictory.
Stobbe's blood was found in the garage, but RCMP investigators did not find any injury on Stobbe that would have produced it that evening. Moreover, RCMP found none of Rowbotham's blood on Stobbe, his clothing, or in the house.
An RCMP chemist told jurors Monday he examined two bicycles seized from Stobbe's home and found no evidence to show either of the bikes had been placed in Rowbotham's Crown Victoria.
Evidence raised the possibility of another suspect
An unknown male's DNA was found on Robowtham's purse. The defence argued that its location on the clasp showed whoever deposited the DNA had control of the purse and didn't just brush by it.
He had a motive
The crown presented evidence that there were tension between Stobbe and his wife over the state of the move and the condition of their new house.
He had opportunity
Crown maintained that Stobbe had enough time to take his wife's body by car to the Selkirk gas station at least five hours to commit the crime and move the body.
He drove the car to the Selkirk gas station then rode his bike home, a theory supported by witnesses who claimed they a large man on a bike riding south from Selkirk on the night of the murder.
His alibi was weak
Stobbe said his wife had gone grocery shopping in Selkirk that evening, but court records and surveillance tape showed she had already shopped for groceries that day.
Stobbe said he heard nothing while watching a baseball game on TV, Accoustic tests showed cries for help from the backyard would have been easily heard inside the house. How could a stranger be able to kill Rowbotham, open the garage door and drive away without Stobbe hearing.
Forensic evidence pointed to him:
Blood was found on the fridge in the garage containing Stobbe's DNA, supporting the crown's theory that he left if there from an injury incurred during the attack.
Who else could have done it?
The crown argued that Stobbe was the only logical suspect. Why would a stranger take the time and effort to clean up crime scene and move the body by car to Selkirk?