Borce Ristevski has been ordered to stand trial charged with murdering his wife Karen Ristevski in the couple's Melbourne home.
Ristevski, 54, allegedly killed his dress shop-owner wife, 47, at their Avondale Heights home on June 29, 2016 before dumping her body in the bush.
As a high-profile committal hearing came to a close on Thursday, magistrate Suzanne Cameron decided there was enough evidence to send Ristevski to trial charged with murder.
"I am of the view that it would be a open for a jury properly instructed to be satisfied that the accused caused the death of Karen Ristevski and at the time had a murderous intent," she told Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Dressed in a charcoal suit and white shirt, Ristevski appeared to show little emotion as the decision was made, and formally pleaded "not guilty" to the charge of murder.
Dozens of witnesses testified during the two-week hearing, including the couple's daughter Sarah Ristevski, who said her father was "never" aggressive towards her mother.
After his wife vanished, Ristevski claimed she had gone for a walk to clear her mind and never returned.
Eight months later, Ms Ristevski's skeletal remains were found between two logs at Macedon Regional Parkin by two horticulturalists who had noticed a strange smell.
An autopsy could not ascertain a cause of death.
Ristevski, who was a pallbearer at his wife's funeral, was charged with murder months later after a police investigation that involved phone taps, listening devices and CCTV footage analysis.
It's alleged he took her Mercedes-Benz roadster on the day she was killed to dispose of the body in the bush and conceal it with sticks and leaves.
Ristevski's lawyers had argued that the murder charge should be abandoned and sought a manslaughter trial, saying even if a jury was to find he killed her there was no murderous intent.
But prosecutors pushed hard for a murder trial, saying Ristevski's deceitful actions in hiding the body and lying to family were not those of a man who accidentally killed his wife.
They said these alleged post-killing actions gave rise to the required murderous intent.
"The prosecution rely on a significant number of actions, utterances and omissions by the accused, including amongst other things the concealment of her death, the disposal of her body, the deactivation of mobile phones," Ms Cameron said.
Ms Ristevski's fashion store Bella Bleu was struggling financially at the time she vanished and she and her husband would occasionally argue over money, prosecutors said.
Ristevski will face a directions hearing in the Supreme Court on August 6.
Australian Associated Press
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