He’s gone from political adviser to one-time murder suspect, and now, author.
Mark Stobbe’s book about being acquitted of his wife’s murder and his time in jail is about to be released.
“At one point in the trial, I remarked to Tim, my lawyer, that one could learn a lot from being on trial for murder. ‘It would have been cheaper to take the course,’ he replied,” Stobbe read aloud from Lessons From Remand, during an interview with Global National correspondent Crystal Goomansingh in Saskatoon.
Stobbe used to be a senior adviser to former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow. In 2000, Stobbe moved to Manitoba to work for Premier Gary Doer.
On October 25, 2000, Stobbe’s wife was found dead. The body of Beverly Rowbotham, 42, was discovered in the family’s sedan, parked near a gas station in Selkirk, Manitoba.
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Stobbe was always the prime suspect, but it wasn’t until May 2008 that RCMP charged him. “In the eight years between the time that Bev was killed and the time that I was arrested, there was always a nagging feeling that someday, the shoe would drop and I would have to undergo that,” Stobbe said.
The 53-year-old wrote in his book, “Being suspected, charged, and tried for the murder of your spouse is not an experience anyone would want to undergo. First, there is the murder itself. Someone you love is killed in a brutal violent way.”
At the murder trial, autopsy reports revealed Rowbotham had 16 head wounds. Blood, hair and bone fragments were found in the family’s backyard. But the case presented lacked physical evidence linked to Stobbe.
He says he was confident that he would be acquitted. “I knew that if (friends and family) relied on what the media were reporting, they would worry unnecessarily about the way the trial was going.”
“I know I’m innocent.”
However, Stobbe points out his book has nothing to do with convincing others to accept the not guilty verdict handed down in March. “I would have hoped that there would be an acceptance of the verdict. Many people clearly don’t accept that verdict.”
“I’m not running around trying to convince people of my innocence… (The book has) nothing to do with the trial. The only connection it’s got with my personal situation, is the fact I was in jail for a period of time.”
Stobbe also says trying to find employment has been difficult since the trial ended. “There is an identification of me and an issue that I didn’t choose that I would much rather did not happen. But I can’t escape it, and it will probably be with me in some form for the rest of my life.”
Proceeds from the book will pay for his legal fees. In this case, the Criminal Notoriety Act doesn’t apply. Justice Minister Vic Toews said last week, “This individual is not a convicted criminal, and so, the provincial laws in respect to those who earn money off their crimes would not apply.”
Stobbe says he won’t use the profits to hire a private investigator to solve his wife’s murder. “I’ve got no idea where I’d ask the private investigator where to start.”
Rowbotham’s sister calls the book hurtful. “I think it’s a rather perverse avenue. I’m not sure what the purpose is,” Barb Kilpatrick said in a phone interview with Global News from Rocky Mountain House, Alberta.
During the trial, Kilpatrick testified she saw two dark reddish stains on a wall of the garage belonging to her sister and brother-in-law. Kilpatrick also said the relationship between Stobbe and Rowbotham was strained after the family moved from Saskatoon to Manitoba for his job.
Kilpatrick is in disbelief at the verdict. “We’re shocked that 12 intelligent people came to this conclusion.”
Stobbe ends his book by offering “advice on how to stay out of jail if your spouse is murdered,” warning that anything you do or say can and will be used against you.
“Your ordeal will begin when you are told your spouse is dead… If your spouse is murdered, you will be the primary suspect. Particularly, if you are male. If the crime is not solved, you will be the subject of the most intense police scrutiny imaginable.”
He goes on to write, “The best way to avoid being wrongfully convicted is to not have anything that can be considered motive… Treat your spouse with respect and love. Live this way and police will have a hard time suspecting you.”
Lessons From Remand is the first of two books Stobbe is publishing, and will be released in the spring.
No release date has been set for the second book, which will consist of his daily journal that he wrote to his family.
Follow Crystal on Twitter: @cgoomansingh