Stobbe trial hears from blood-spatter expert

An RCMP blood-spatter expert testified on Monday at the second-degree murder trial in Winnipeg of Mark Stobbe, who is accused of killing his wife, Beverly Rowbotham.
An RCMP blood-spatter expert testifies at the second-degree murder trial of Mark Stobbe, a former Manitoba and Saskatchewan government official who is accused of killing his wife, Angela Johnston reports. 1:44

An RCMP forensics expert has testified that Beverly Rowbotham was struck while upright, carried or dragged to a car in her garage and driven to a remote location while blood continued to seep from her body.

Retired inspector Bruce Maclean, a blood-spatter expert, examined hundreds of small blood marks found in Rowbotham's backyard, garage and car in the hours after she was found dead on Oct. 25, 2000.

Rowbotham's husband, Mark Stobbe, a high-ranking political adviser in Saskatchewan and Manitoba at the time, is on trial for second-degree murder.

Blood stains near a door frame and on the floor of the garage "are consistent with the deceased, Beverly Rowbotham, moving or being moved in the garage while bleeding," Maclean told court Monday.

"This was one continuous event."

The Crown's theory is that Stobbe hit his wife 16 times with a hatchet behind the couple's sprawling rural property in St. Andrews, Man., dragged her to a sedan in the garage, drove her body 15 kilometres away, then bicycled back home and reported her missing hours later.

Rowbotham's body was found lying across the back seat of her car in a parking lot in Selkirk, Man. Her head had been bludgeoned.

Maclean was unable to say exactly where Rowbotham was killed. There was less blood in the yard and the garage than one would expect from someone who suffered many blows to the head, he said.

But the way the blood poured down her jean jacket would indicate she was upright when attacked, he said.

Blood drops and some smeared blood stains in the garage indicate she was brought there after being injured.

Maclean also found blood spatters on the underside of the car, which he said was a sign that blood was "dripping through the seams of the vehicle while it was moving."

Maclean's testimony is the latest Crown evidence aimed at poking holes in what witnesses have testified Stobbe told them — that his wife disappeared while on a late-evening shopping trip to Selkirk.

The Crown has already produced evidence that Rowbotham's wallet was found in the Red River — not far from the family home and well upstream of Selkirk.

But, so far, the Crown has not produced any witnesses to Rowbotham's death. Neighbours have testified they did not see or hear anything unusual the night she died.

Stobbe had worked as a senior adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow before moving in 2000 to take a communications job with the Manitoba government.

The trial is scheduled to continue until the end of March.