Jurors spent their first day considering the fate of Mark Stobbe, a former Saskatchewan and Manitoba political adviser accused of killing his wife over a decade ago.

Stobbe has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Beverly Rowbotham, in October 2000.

Since Stobbe's trial began on Jan. 16, jurors heard more than 100 hours of testimony from about 80 witnesses, including Stobbe himself.

After receiving instructions from Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin on Tuesday morning, the 12 jurors began deliberating on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. CT.

The jury adjourned at around 9:30 p.m. without reaching a verdict. Deliberations will resume Wednesday morning.

In his instructions to the jury, Martin took members through the specifics of evidence in the case, starting with Crown's theory of what happened.

The judge told jurors they could consider testimony, exhibits and agreements among counsel — but said they should not base their verdict on any sympathy they may hold for either Stobbe or Rowbotham.

Stobbe had worked as a senior adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow before he moved to Manitoba in the spring of 2000 for a new job with the recently elected NDP government of Gary Doer.

Rowbotham's body was found inside the family car in Selkirk, Man., on Oct. 25, 2000. She had 16 chop wounds to the head, according to autopsy results that were presented during the trial.

Circumstantial case

The Crown has claimed that Stobbe struck Rowbotham repeatedly with a hatchet in the yard of their rural property in St. Andrews, Man., then drove her body to Selkirk and bicycled home to report her missing.


Beverly Rowbotham was found dead in her car at a gas station in Selkirk, Man., in October 2000.

Stobbe maintained that he fell asleep while his wife went grocery shopping at the Selkirk Safeway in the late-night hours of Oct. 24. He said he woke up a few hours later to find she had not returned.

The Crown's case was largely circumstantial: there were no witnesses and the murder weapon was never found.

Prosecutors did present DNA evidence that shows blood, hair and small bone fragments from Rowbotham were found in the couple's backyard.

Defence lawyers have argued that Stobbe had no reason to kill Rowbotham, as the couple had a generally normal and happy marriage.

They added that unknown male DNA was found on Rowbotham's purse, suggesting that someone other than Stobbe could have been involved.

Stobbe has testified that he did not hear anything from the backyard or garage on the night his wife was killed.