03/19/2012 12:18 EDT | Updated 03/21/2012 11:59 EDT

Mark Stobbe Trial: Testimony Concludes In Case Of Former Political Adviser Accused Of Killing Wife

WINNIPEG - The fate of a former political adviser accused of killing his wife will soon be in the hands of a jury after seven weeks of testimony from some 80 people.

The Crown and defence called their final witnesses Monday in the second-degree murder trial of Mark Stobbe, a one-time high-ranking government official in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Two RCMP officers testified about statements they took from Edward and Lorraine Belanger, a couple who lived near a vacant service station lot where Stobbe's wife was found dead early on Oct. 25, 2000. Lorraine Belanger also testified Monday.

Court was told the Belangers drove by the lot at around 1 a.m. and did not see any car in the spot where Beverly Rowbotham was found four hours later. The car was found at the edge of the lot next to a back lane.

Crown attorney Wendy Dawson challenged Lorraine Belanger's ability to notice any vehicles in the area.

"You were accelerating (after turning a corner) up to about 20 kilometres an hour?", Dawson asked.

"Yes," Belanger replied.

"There was absolutely no lighting on that laneway, was there?"

"No, there wasn't."

The issue of when the car was placed in the lot could be crucial.

The Crown's theory is that Stobbe hit his wife 16 times with a hatchet during an argument in the backyard of their Winnipeg-area home in St. Andrew's, then drove her body 15 kilometres north to the lot in Selkirk before bicycling back home to report her missing.

He called relatives and police at 2:30 a.m.

Stobbe has testified he fell asleep while his wife went out grocery shopping just after 9 p.m. and woke up hours later to find she had never returned. He has also testified he weighs more than 300 pounds and might not be able to bicycle 15 kilometres with any speed.

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.

Stobbe's lawyer, Tim Killeen, was scheduled to make his final arguments Tuesday. The Crown is to follow Wednesday. Justice Chris Martin told the jury they are likely to receive instructions from him next Monday or Tuesday before beginning their deliberations.