Mark Stobbe was accused Wednesday of committing a "near perfect murder" by brutally attacking his wife, Beverly Rowbotham, and then covering up the crime.
Crown attorney Wendy Dawson is making her final arguments to the jury and suggested there is an overwhelming circumstantial case against Stobbe. She painted him as a liar whose repeated denials of guilt should be rejected.
Dawson is expected to spend the entire day leading jurors through eight weeks of evidence which is the basis for the second-degree murder charge. She told jurors they should have no trouble finding him guilty as charged despite no direct eyewitness or forensic evidence linking him to the October 2000 killing of Rowbotham.
"There is a trail of evidence that you just have to follow and draw inferences from," said Dawson.
She claimed there were numerous stress factors in the Stobbe-Rowbotham marriage which triggered the deadly attack.
"This was a crime of rage," said Dawson. "In October 2000, all was not rosy. She was not the happy, cheerful person Mr. Stobbe claimed her to be."
It’s a much different picture than the one painted Tuesday by Stobbe’s lawyer, Tim Killeen, who suggested a conviction would be a miscarriage of justice.
"Mr. Stobbe has no reason to kill his wife. Mr. Stobbe did not kill his wife. Mr. Stobbe could not have killed his wife," Killeen said during his closing arguments. The Crown gets to argue last because Killeen opted to call evidence during the trial, including putting his client on the stand.
Stobbe, 54, has denied any involvement in the slaying of Rowbotham. She was struck 16 times in the head with either a hatchet or an axe in the backyard of her St. Andrews home, then transferred to her car and left in a parking lot in Selkirk.
Stobbe said he was home at the time of the attack but denies hearing anything. He said he fell asleep watching TV after his wife went to Safeway in Selkirk to complete a "big shop" that had been interrupted by their young son that afternoon, only to wake up in the middle of the night to find his wife missing.
Dawson attacked Stobbe’s explanation on Wednesday.
"Certainly he should have been able to hear a cry for help from his wife or a commotion in the garage," said Dawson. "Why did Mr. Stobbe not hear anything? Because Beverly Rowbotham wasn’t attacked by a stranger. She was attacked by Mr. Stobbe."
Dawson said Wednesday a bloody towel and two bloody Kleenexes found in the Stobbe home and garage contained Stobbe’s DNA and prove he cleaned himself up after an injury. She scoffed at Stobbe’s claim he cut himself shaving.
"The amount of blood found on the towel was more than what you’d expect from a shaving cut," said Dawson. She also noted that a small blood stain was found on a fridge in the family garage where Rowbotham’s body was moved into a vehicle. The stain contained mixed DNA from both Stobbe and Rowbotham.
Killeen has argued the blood could have come from a swatted mosquito which had previously bitten both Stobbe and Rowbotham – a claim Dawson suggested Wednesday did not make any sense.
Killeen admitted Tuesday there is plenty "suspicious" about his client's alleged involvement and story, but told jurors that's not nearly enough to convict him.
"The Crown has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Mr. Stobbe has to prove nothing," he said.
The Crown alleges Stobbe moved Rowbotham's body and cycled back to his house in an attempt to make her death seem like a robbery gone bad. They have presented some evidence suggesting there were marital issues between the two, although Stobbe denies anything overly heated or unusual.
"This isn't a marriage that was falling apart," Killeen said. "He had no reason why he'd want to kill her."
Killeen spent much of his argument focusing on Rowbotham's purse. Unknown male DNA was found on its straps. Tests have ruled Stobbe out as the donor.
"At the end of the day, I don't know who did this. I don't know what happened or whose DNA was on that purse. Nobody does," Killeen said. He offered a number of theories, including the possibility Rowbotham was attacked by an intruder she found in the yard or by a drugged-up stranger whose path she crossed.
"The world, unfortunately, is full of bizarre people," Killeen said. "We really have no idea what occurred here."