Mark Stobbe has been found not guilty of second degree murder by a jury in Winnipeg. The crown claimed Stobbe killed his wife Beverly Rowbotham in a fit of rage in their backyard with an axe. It was all circumstantial evidence, however all of this evidence pointed to Stobbe. Blood and bone fragments from Rowbotham were found in the couples backyard. Stobbe claims he fell asleep watching a baseball game while his wife was hacked to death just a few meters away. He didn’t hear screams, the killer didn’t enter the house, ya right!
Juries have to start using common sense and logic. In light of the Casey Anthony case juries have to realize concrete evidence and witnesses are not always part of the prosecution’s case. Strong circumstantial evidence should be enough to convict.
Here are some of the key events leading up to, and including, Mark Stobbe’s second-degree murder trial in connection with the death of his wife, Beverly Rowbotham.
Mark Stobbe, Beverly Rowbotham, and the couple’s two sons move from Regina to a home on River Road in St. Andrews, Man.
Stobbe had worked as a high-ranking adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow before moving to Manitoba to take up a job with the newly elected NDP government of Gary Doer.
Oct. 24, 2000
Rowbotham goes grocery shopping with one of their sons at the Safeway in Selkirk, Man., that afternoon.
According to Stobbe, Rowbotham decides late that night to go back to Safeway. Stobbe testified that he fell asleep while Rowbotham went out, then woke up a few hours later to find she was still gone.
Oct. 25, 2000
2:37 a.m.: Stobbe calls RCMP to report Rowbotham missing.
4:12 a.m.: Rowbotham’s body is found in the family’s Crown Victoria near a service station in Selkirk. She had 16 chop wounds to the head, with some of the blows going through her skull, according to autopsy results presented at trial.
10:10 a.m.: An RCMP officer begins taking Stobbe’s statement. An audio recording of the 70-minute conversation was played in court.
Stobbe is arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with Rowbotham’s death.
Stobbe is released on bail.
Jan. 16, 2012
Stobbe’s trial begins in Winnipeg. Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Chris Martin oversees the jury trial.
Jurors will go on to hear more than 100 hours of testimony from 80 witnesses, including Stobbe himself.
March 8, 2012
Stobbe begins testifying in his own defence. He undergoes six days of testimony — five of which involve cross-examination — before his testimony ends on March 15.
March 21, 2012
Crown and defence lawyers finish making their closing arguments.
March 27, 2012
Martin gives jurors final instructions before they begin deliberating.
March 29, 2012
Jury acquits Stobbe of second degree murder.
Jurors in the Winnipeg murder trial of Mark Stobbe, who is accused of killing his wife in 2000, heard audio footage of Stobbe’s statement to RCMP after she was found dead.
In the audio recording from Oct. 25, 2000, about five hours after Beverly Rowbotham was found beaten to death inside her car in Selkirk, Man., Stobbe told RCMP Sgt. Sheldon Peddle that he and Rowbotham had a “pretty good” marriage.
“Was there any tension at all between you and Bev for any reason at all?” Peddle, who was a constable at the time, asked Stobbe as they sat in an RCMP cruiser outside the River Road home where Stobbe and Rowbotham lived with their two young sons.
“Not particularly,” replied Stobbe. “Like the fact she got grumpy around menstruation period and you learn to expect it.”
“Were you happy here?” Peddle asked.
“Oh yeah, I love it here. Or I did. Still will,” Stobbe answered.
Seemed ‘out of sorts’
Peddle testified on Thursday that Stobbe seemed “out of sorts” and “lost” as he gave the statement, but he did not seem overly emotional.
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.
Stobbe, who was arrested eight years after his wife’s death, has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. His trial began Jan. 16 in Winnipeg and is expected to continue until the end of March.
According to the RCMP recording, Stobbe told police his wife suddenly decided to go grocery shopping late at night because he was watching a baseball game on television.
Stobbe told Peddle he fell asleep with one of his two sons and woke up around 2:30 a.m. to discover his wife had not returned.
Mark Stobbe, a former Manitoba and Saskatchewan political adviser accused of killing his wife in 2000, is out of the witness box after six days of testimony that included five days of cross-examination.
Stobbe ended his testimony by calmly and repeatedly rejecting accusations from the Crown that he beat Beverly Rowbotham to death, drove her body to a remote location and bicycled back home to report her missing.
Stobbe has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in connection with Rowbotham’s death. His trial began Jan. 16 in Winnipeg, and Stobbe had been testifying since March 8.
With Stobbe’s testimony finished, the trial will resume Monday morning. Defence lawyer Tim Killeen has not told the jury if he will call more witnesses.
A former senior adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, Stobbe moved with Rowbotham and their children to the Winnipeg area in 2000 for a job with the government of then-premier Gary Doer.
Stobbe proclaims innocence
Rowbotham’s body was found in the family car on Oct. 25, 2000.
On Thursday, Stobbe proclaimed his innocence during the fifth and final day of cross-examination.
“I did not murder my wife,” Stobbe said calmly under questioning by Crown attorney Wendy Dawson.
“I did not put her in the Crown Victoria. I did not drive the Crown Victoria out of the garage with her in it.”
The Crown has accused Stobbe of attacking Rowbotham with a hatchet, then driving 15 kilometres away to dump her body in the Selkirk, Man., area before bicycling back to their house in St. Andrews, Man.
Stobbe has said he fell asleep while his wife went out for a late-night grocery run and woke up around 2:30 a.m. to find her still gone.
Her body was found several hours later in the family car in a parking lot in Selkirk.
Blood stains in the garage
Dawson said Stobbe moved the family’s other car to cover up blood stains in the garage while the family went to Saskatchewan for his wife’s memorial service shortly after her murder.
“I had no idea there were blood stains in the garage,” Stobbe said. “I knew neither that the garage nor the backyard were part of a crime scene.”
Dawson presented Stobbe with a bath towel spotted with his blood recovered from the family home. Stobbe said he cut himself shaving in the shower.
“These stains in this towel are more than just a shaving cut,” Dawson said. “This is from a cut you sustained while you were chopping at your wife’s head with a hatchet.”
“I never chopped at my wife’s head with a hatchet,” Stobbe said.
Stobbe said he was happy when police came to take a DNA sample from him since he assumed it would exonerate him.
“If male blood had been found, it was likely from who(ever) killed her,” he said.
“I knew with absolute certainty that that was not me.”
Although Stobbe said he went to great lengths to secure the house before they left the province, Dawson said he didn’t bother to change the locks on the house or cancel his wife’s credit cards.
That’s because Stobbe knew his wife hadn’t been robbed, she said.
Stobbe said he didn’t think to change the locks and he didn’t cancel the credit cards in case they were used by a suspect.
The Crown’s case against Stobbe is circumstantial since there were no witnesses and the murder weapon was never found.
The Crown has DNA evidence that shows blood, hair and small bone fragments from Rowbotham were found in the couple’s backyard, and alleges that Stobbe hosed down the area to try to wash away evidence.
Stobbe has testified he didn’t hear anything from the backyard or garage the night his wife was killed.