Man accused of killing wife rebuffs argument that couple was stressed

Accused murderer Mark Stobbe stood firm under cross-examination Monday as the Crown suggested his marriage was deteriorating in the weeks before his wife was brutally killed.

WINNIPEG — Accused murderer Mark Stobbe stood firm under cross-examination Monday as the Crown suggested his marriage was deteriorating in the weeks before his wife was brutally killed.

Crown attorney Wendy Dawson repeatedly pointed to Stobbe’s long hours at work, the family’s move from Regina to Winnipeg and other issues as sources of stress on his wife, Beverly Rowbotham.

“I’m going to suggest to you that Bev was stressed out … she was extremely stressed,” Dawson said.

Stobbe testified his job as a senior political adviser to the Manitoba government sometimes required him to work from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., but Rowbotham was used to it.

“I think it would be fair to say that she wanted me around more, but … she understood that the long hours were part and parcel of my job,” Stobbe said.

“She never made a suggestion to me that I change my career.”

Stobbe is accused of killing his wife with a hatchet in the couple’s backyard in St. Andrew’s, Man., in October 2000. The couple and their two sons had moved from Regina that spring, where Stobbe worked as a top adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow.

Court has already heard that the couple faced many challenges after moving for Stobbe’s new job with the recently elected NDP government of Gary Doer. The house was in bad need of repair, the sprawling rural property made the family feel isolated and Stobbe was putting in long hours as a spring legislature session dragged on.

The Crown’s theory is that all the stress took a toll on Rowbotham, and the couple ended up in a fatal argument in their backyard.

Dawson tried to get Stobbe to admit that his wife was under severe stress, but Stobbe instead used words such as “concern.” At one point, he laughed.

“Is there some reason you’re laughing?” Dawson asked.

“Yes, it’s (your) determination … to put a spin on what I think has been put clearly by myself,” Stobbe replied.

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