POLITICS

Mark Stobbe Trial: Accused Murderer Says He Feels Like Porridge Under Crown Grilling

03/13/2012 12:40 EDT | Updated 03/16/2012 09:26 EDT
CP
WINNIPEG - Accused murderer and former political adviser Mark Stobbe complained that he felt like a fairy tale breakfast cereal Tuesday as he faced another day of intense cross-examination about his wife's violent death.

"Here, I feel like Goldilocks' porridge again," Stobbe said as Crown prosecutor Wendy Dawson questioned him about his actions in the days leading up to Beverly Rowbotham's death on Oct. 24, 2000.

The comment appeared to be a dig at Dawson, who since last Friday has been picking apart the various levels of detail Stobbe has provided in statements in the 11 years since the death.

For example, Stobbe told police immediately after his wife's death that he had spent much of the previous weekend doing household chores. But only recently has he mentioned details, such as going into a crawl space with a spray can and putting away a garden hose for the winter.

"Somehow, you're able to recall a lot more detail (now), aren't you?" Dawson asked.

Stobbe replied that he would have provided those details "had I been asked for them at that time."

"I didn't believe they were relevant and (police) didn't ask me any followup questions on those."

The Crown alleges Stobbe killed his wife with a hatchet in the couple's backyard in St. Andrew's, Man., drove her body 15 kilometres to a parking lot in Selkirk, and then bicycled back home to report her missing.

Stobbe told police he fell asleep while his wife went our for a late-night grocery run, and woke up around 2:30 a.m. to find her still gone. Some two hours later, her body was found in the family's sedan.

Stobbe had worked as a senior adviser to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow before moving to Manitoba in the spring of 2000 for a new job with the recently elected government of Gary Doer.

Dawson grilled Stobbe on his statement that he was asleep in the living room during his wife's attack, which DNA evidence suggests was in the backyard.

"You would have been able to hear her yell," Dawson said.

"I don't know if she yelled. I don't know if she was prevented from yelling. All I can say is that I did not hear her yell.

"I sure wish I could have ... but I didn't."

Dawson said it would be impossible not to hear a deadly attack.

"You say that because she was not attacked by anyone but you," Dawson said.

"She was not attacked by me," Stobbe replied.

The Crown's case is circumstantial. There were no witnesses to the killing and no one has testified that they saw Stobbe and Rowbotham argue. The Crown has DNA evidence that shows blood, hair and small bone fragments from Rowbotham were found in the couple's backyard, and alleges Stobbe hosed down the backyard to try to wash away evidence.

That is why Dawson questioned Stobbe about his recent testimony that he put away the garden hose for the winter days before Rowbotham's death.

"I'm going to suggest that you've added those details to make it less likely that you hosed down the yard," she said.

Stobbe again said he would have added details about his chores from the outset had police asked him for them.

The tension between Stobbe and Dawson has been palpable. Stobbe sits with his body turned slightly away from her and does not look at her. Instead, he looks at the jury, the floor or the back of the courtroom.

Dawson also grilled Stobbe on his health. Stobbe has testified he weighs more than 300 pounds, and is not sure whether he would be able to bicycle 15 kilometres as the Crown alleges.

Dawson asked Stobbe whether he had any other health problems, and he replied he did not.

Dawson then suggested Stobbe's size meant he would have an easy time in a fight with his wife.

"She would be no match for you in a physical struggle," Dawson said.

"We never had a physical struggle," Stobbe fired back.

Stobbe's cross-examination continues Wednesday.