A court has heard that the cause of Auckland woman Cissy Chen's death could not be determined from her remains.
Yun Qing Liu, sometimes known as Jack, has pleaded not guilty in the High Court in Auckland to murdering his 45-year-old long-term partner in November 2012. The trial started this week.
Mr Liu reported Ms Chen missing to the police, saying she never returned from an afternoon walk.
Her remains were found in a stream in Totaravale Reserve on Auckland's North Shore in March 2014, 16 months after her disappearance.
Mr Liu was among those who gathered at the site for a blessing after that discovery. The police charged him with Ms Chen's murder shortly afterwards.
During the Crown's opening statement this morning, lawyer Brian Dickey said they could not point directly to how Ms Chen died.
Mr Dickey said her remains were in many pieces and so badly decomposed that a pathologist could not determine a cause of death.
"She did not get to that waterway on her own... This is the disposal of a body," he said.
The Crown's case centres on the timing of phone calls and what it says are the changing stories Mr Liu told the police about Ms Chen's disappearance.
Witnesses who will be called to give evidence include her brothers (who have flown from China for the trial), friends of the pair and Mr Liu's son.
Mr Dickey said they would tell the court how the relationship between Ms Chen and Mr Liu had broken down. He said her brothers would recall their sister telling them she'd had a "fierce fight" with Mr Liu shortly before she went missing.
Mr Liu's lawyer, Michael Kan, urged the jury to keep an open mind about his client.
Mr Kan said the focus of the case was not that Ms Chen was dead but how she died.
He described some of the Crown's evidence as flukes in the investigation and urged the jury not to rubberstamp what the Crown's witnesses said in court.