By Tracy Neal of RNZ

A family member of a woman who died in a Nelson hotel room has described the tension and verbal abuse that grew within the victim's marriage.

Bin Jiang, 64, is on trial in the High Court in Nelson, accused of the murder of his wife, Yanyan Meng, who was found dead at the city's Rutherford Hotel in April 2018.

The Chinese-born Swiss nationals were on a tour of the country.

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The family member, who has name suppression, told the court today via video link from the United States the couple had grown to want different things, which had caused increased tension.

He said Mr Jiang tried hard over the years to resolve the conflicts, and in 2016 there was some "economic distress" between the couple.

"I think there were a lot of fluctuation in their relationship."

He said Mr Jiang - a computer engineer - had a good job and that enabled him to travel and his vision for retirement was to use his 60s to do that, but his wife seemed mixed about that.

The witness said the conflict was mostly verbal, but sometimes physical when Mr Jiang would try to intervene or disengage and lock himself away until Ms Meng had calmed down.

He said Ms Meng had spoken of wanting a divorce but had not acted on it for cultural reasons.

"When she was very upset she would talk about wanting a divorce."

He said divorce was generally frowned upon, and that Ms Meng had sacrificed herself for the family and did not want her family to know about the situation.

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"She didn't want them to know the pain she suffered in the marriage.

"Being divorced is a bad thing."

The Crown alleged that Mr Jiang murdered the 62-year-old during an argument over accusations he was having an affair.

The defence said the man panicked, and did not intend to kill his wife.

Forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage told the court today it was his opinion that the injuries found in Ms Meng's throat indicated she was throttled.

"I think she shows evidence of severe asphyxia, relating to a forced neck compression," Dr Sage said in answer to a question from Crown prosecutor Jackson Webber.

"The pattern of injury and the fatal outcome was very likely to result from throttling, which is the word that describes manual strangulation," Dr Sage said.

He said there was bruising on her body, but some might not have been linked to the incident. He said her fingernails were intact, but there was nothing specific that said she had been held strongly.

"On the back of her upper thighs there were five small fresh bruises and a minor graze on her right foot, but they don't tell me much about any specific event."

Dr Sage said a mark on Ms Meng's arm showed signs of clothing having been pulled very tightly on her skin.

He said some telling signs of how she died were the "pinpoint haemorrhages" in her face and eyes - 15 small flat speckles that looked like freckles but they were not.

Dr Sage said they could arise through different causes, but were the result of not getting enough oxygen.

The trial has been adjourned to resume on Monday.

- RNZ