A Winnipeg jury has found Mark Stobbe not guilty of murder.

Stobbe had been charged for the killing of his wife Beverly Rowbotham in October 2000.

The trial for Stobbe, a former high-profile political adviser, lasted eight weeks and heard from from about 80 witnesses. 

Outside court Thursday, Stobbe said he's relieved by the verdict.

Stobbe also told reporters he would like to know who the killer was, but it's not his task to find out.

"I've heard the judge say on many occasions that that isn't my job. It's not something I can speculate on," said Stobbe outside court. "Of course, I want to know."

Stobbe was asked what he plans to do next.

"Get on with my life, raising my children - you know, one lives," said Stobbe.

In a rare move, the judge took the time to say how Stobbe's sons resemble him and that now as a free man, Stobbe should make them his priority to "honour her memory for them."

"I'm very proud of my sons. I know their mother would be too," said Stobbe outside court.

He plans to return to Saskatchewan to raise them.

The Saskatchewan Craft Council issued a statement Thursday, saying it was pleased to hear Stobbe has been found not guilty and that he was on leave from employment with the organization until the end of June.

"No discussion or decisions have been made regarding his potential return in July," said the council in a statement.

Stobbe said he couldn't have made it through the court process without support of family and friends. He also thanked his defence lawyers, the judge and the jury.

The jury began its deliberations on March 27 before its verdict was read out March 29.

After the verdict was announced, Stobbe smiled at the jury as he left.

During the trial, Stobbe spent multiple days on the stand, including five days under cross-examination.

The Crown had argued that while no murder weapon was found and there was not an eye-witness, the case against Stobbe was "anchored by forensic evidence."

The Crown said a bloody towel and two bloody tissues were found that had Stobbe's DNA on it, proving he cleaned up after the killing.

The Crown argued Stobbe killed his wife with a hatchet in their St. Andrews backyard and then drove her body in her car to Selkirk to make it look like a robbery.

The defence argued someone else was responsible for the killing of Rowbotham and pointed towards DNA. 

"There was DNA found on her purse, male DNA, that wasn't Mr. Stobbe's or his sons. Possibly in the future somebody will be connected to that DNA," said Tim Killeen, defence attorney.

Rowbotham's family didn't want to conduct a full interview Thursday, but her sisters did say they are shocked and saddened by the verdict, adding they waited 12 years for justice.  

Rowbotham's sisters said they've made it clear they want an appeal filed in the case. They also scheduled a press conference on March 30. 

The Crown said she is asking Manitoba's assistant attorney general to review the case for a possible appeal.

- with reports from CTV's Stacey Ashley and Jeff Keele, and files from The Canadian Press