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Mark Stobbe, seen in a file photo from 2008, is accused in the death of his wife, Beverley Rowbotham. (CBC)

The second-degree murder trial for Mark Stobbe, a former government staffer in Saskatchewan and Manitoba who is accused of killing his wife, begins Monday in Winnipeg.

Beverley Rowbotham, 42, was found dead in her car at a gas station near Selkirk, Man. in October 2000.

Investigators said they believed she had been beaten to death in the backyard of her home in nearby St. Andrews, then moved to Selkirk.

Stobbe, a one-time top adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, was arrested in May 2008, nearly eight years later.

He has been out on bail and living in Saskatoon since June 24, 2008.

The trial begins with two weeks of legal arguments, which are taking place without the jury present and cannot be reported.

Testimony is expected to begin in two weeks and the trial is scheduled to run until the end of March.

Stobbe, Rowbotham and their sons moved to Manitoba from Regina about five months before Rowbotham's death, when Stobbe accepted a senior job on the Manitoba cabinet's community and economic development committee.

After his wife's death, Stobbe and his sons moved back to Saskatoon, where he's lived ever since.

Stobbe, who has always maintained his innocence, told investigators she had left the family home to go grocery shopping about 8:30 p.m. the day before his wife’s body was found.

He had fallen asleep with their two sons, then five and three years old, he said, and called police at 1:30 a.m., when she hadn't returned home.

With files from The Canadian Press