An Ottawa man scalded his wife with boiling water and then left her to die in the basement of her home, a Crown prosecutor alleged on the opening day of a first-degree murder trial.

Mark Hutt, 36, has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge in connection with the December 2009 death of his wife, 33-year-old Donna Ellen Jones-Hutt.

Jones-Hutt's body was found battered and burned on a dirty mattress in the basement of her home in Ottawa's west end in December 2009.

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Donna Ellen Jones-Hutt was allegedly burned, beaten and murdered by her husband, Mark Hutt.

Hutt, dressed in a black suit, sat in an Ottawa courtroom in the prisoner's box across from the judge as the trial began Wednesday.

In her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told the jury Jones-Hutt's body was found with third and fourth degree burns. She had two black eyes, a broken nose, bruises, scabs and nine rib fractures.

"Mark Hutt systemically abused Donna Jones — physically, psychologically, financially," said Cunningham.

Jones-Hutt 'bubbly' before meeting Hutt: Crown

Cunningham said before Jones-Hutt met Hutt she was bubbly, a hard worker, paid off her student loans and bought a house on her own. Jones was a federal public servant who went to Algonquin College and Carleton University. The couple met in the summer of 2005 and were married in 2007.

"This strong intelligent woman became withdrawn and completely devoted to protecting the man who abused her," said Cunningham.

The crown alleges that after Hutt burned Jones-Hutt, her wounds became infected and she descended into septic shock and died 11 days later.

Cunningham said a police officer said Jones-Hutt looked like she was "dragged behind a car on a gravel road."

Hutt initially told police that his wife fell into a fire pit at a work gathering. He told police that she didn't want to go to the hospital.

Friends planned to intervene, Crown says

The Crown also said friends of Jones-Hutt planned to confront her about the abusive relationship on December 7, the day after she died.

Deborah Anne Sinclair, a domestic violence expert and a crown witness, sat in the witness box after the crown's opening statements. She was called to testify to explain how an intelligent, independent and sociable woman can become trapped in an abusive relationship.

Sinclair said domestic violence cuts across all cultures and socio-economic backgrounds and said people abuse their partners to gain compliance and make spouses follow their rules.

Sinclair said victims of domestic abuse may isolate themselves because of shame. She said many victims of domestic violence don't want the relationship to end, they want the abuse to stop.

In the research she has seen, Sinclair said most women who are killed by partners are murdered as they try to leave the relationship.

The Crown said they also intend to call as witnesses Jones-Hutt's family and friends, the detectives involved with the case and the medical examiner who completed the autopsy.