Manitoba·Updated

Stobbe lied under oath, Crown says

The Crown has presented its final arguments in the murder trial of Mark Stobbe, a former Saskatchewan and Manitoba political adviser accused of killing his wife in 2000.
Mark Stobbe walks into the Winnipeg courthouse on Tuesday. The defence and Crown have finished their closing arguments, and the jury is expected to begin deliberating next week. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The Crown has presented its final arguments in the murder trial of Mark Stobbe, a former Saskatchewan and Manitoba political adviser accused of killing his wife in 2000.

Crown attorney Wendy Dawson told a Winnipeg jury on Wednesday that there is a "compelling" body of evidence pointing to Stobbe's guilt.

She also accused Stobbe, a former political advisor in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, of lying while testifying under oath.

Dawson described 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."

"His biggest lie is his claim he did not murder his wife," Dawson told the jury.

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

Attacked with hatchet

Jurors heard from about 80 witnesses and more than 100 hours of testimony since Stobbe's trial began in mid-January.

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

Stobbe maintained throughout the trial that he fell asleep while his wife went on a late-night grocery shopping trip, then woke up to find she had not returned.

DNA evidence shows blood, hair and small bone fragments from Rowbotham were found in the couple's backyard. However, there were no witnesses to the murder and no weapon was ever found, so the Crown's case has been largely circumstantial.

On Tuesday, defence lawyer Tim Killeen told jurors that unknown male DNA was found on Rowbotham's purse.

He said the Crown has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stobbe is responsible for his wife's death.

DNA on purse of 'no value,' Crown says

But Dawson told jurors on Wednesday that the DNA found on the purse is of "no value" in determining the identification of the killer.

There's no way to tell when it was left there and it was a small amount that could easily have come from a sneeze, or from Rowbotham hanging her purse on a shopping cart.

Rowbotham had been grocery shopping earlier in the day.

As for blood found on some Kleenex tissues and a towel matching Stobbe's DNA, Dawson argued it came from an injury "more significant" than shaving.

Stobbe had previously told court he cut himself shaving in the days after his wife's death.

Dawson said the case might be circumstantial but jurors should not be hesitant to draw upon inferences.

Justice Chris Martin told jurors to return to court next Tuesday morning for instructions before deliberations begin.

With files from The Canadian Press

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