Key Points:

In stilted English but a strong voice Nai Yin Xue told a court he was innocent of murdering his wife, moments before he was committed to trial for her death.

Xue pleaded not guilty in Auckland District Court this afternoon then said "I am innocent" of the charge of murdering his wife Anan Liu.

Xue remained calm as his lawyer Chris Comeskey told two Justices of the Peace there was a prima facie case to answer for the murder of his wife.

The committal to stand trial in the High Court in Auckland comes after a two-day depositions hearing.

It was in stark contrast to earlier when Xue broke down and wept as he heard a pathologist describe how Anan Liu's naked body had been found in the boot of Xue's work car, with a yellow tie still around her neck.

Ms Liu's body was found in September last year in the car outside their home in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill.

Xue became the centre of an international manhunt after his three-year-old daughter Qian Xun Xue was found alone at a Melbourne railway station on September 15.

Xue fled to Los Angeles and was on the run until February 28, when captured in Chamblee, a town on the northeast outskirts of Atlanta, by six Chinese Americans who recognised him from a newspaper.

The Crown alleges Ms Liu was strangled with a yellow tie either on the evening of September 11 or morning of September 12 after a period of domestic violence by Xue.

Dr Timothy Koelmeyer today told the court apart from the trauma to the neck, there were no other obvious injuries, apart from a minor scrape on her nose.

Mr Comeskey asked if there had been any apparent evidence of a frenzied attack on her.

Dr Koelmeyer said there was no evidence of a struggle .

After questioning by Mr Comeskey about time of death, Dr Koelmeyer said it was difficult to pinpoint an exact time.

When Mr Comeskey asked if he thought Ms Liu had died more recently than the police timeline of death, Dr Koelmeyer replied that was a fair comment.

This morning the court was told how an angry Xue had bought an axe and took it with him to Wellington in an attempt to get her to return home .

Guiquing Jia, a language school teacher who met Xue when Ms Liu had left him, said he told her about the axe.

Xue said his wife was lucky because he had not been able to find her in Wellington, despite breaking into a house where he thought she was staying.

Xue told her it may have been God's will that Ms Liu should not die and they were meant to be together.

When Mrs Jia asked for Xue to give her the axe he said there were no problems and he would not hurt his wife with the axe.

However, Xue told her he felt his wife was lying to him.

"After the wife came back he was really nice to her but she wasn't very sincere towards him."

Xue told the woman he wanted another child but his wife was not as interested.

He also questioned her relationship with the landlord Ms Liu rented a room from in Wellington, saying it seemed strange she had been able to stay down there for the six weeks with very little money and supplies.

Xue was remanded in custody and will appear in the Auckland High Court on October 15.

- NZPA