A mother's instinct gave her an inkling of what her son had done, Lexi Te Hiko told a High Court jury trying him for murder.
James William Manuoa Te Hiko, 44, a scaffolder, has denied murdering partner Queenie Karaka, generally known as Nina Thompson, at Atiamuri sometime between midnight on April 19 and 7am on April 20 last year.
Describing a phone call she received from her son early on April 20, Lexi Te Hiko said she had never heard his voice like that before.
He was "gone", crying and unable to speak most of the time, she said on the opening day of the trial in Rotorua on Monday.
She told her son's lawyer, Harry Edward, once an ambulance took her son's partner from his home, she and another son joined Ms Thompson's family for a service in the driveway.
She agreed she told police the couple's relationship was topsy-turvy.
Tokoroa family violence officer Andrew Munro said Te Hiko had been matter of fact, rather than distressed, when he called him on his cell phone to say he had bashed and killed Ms Thompson after they had been drinking and arguing.
Later in the conversation, he started yelling and became hysterical, saying he had woken up and found her dead in their bed.
When he saw Te Hiko at his home on Atiamuri's Ongaroto marae, Sergeant Daniel Peat said he told him Ms Thompson wouldn't wake up and that he'd bashed her the previous night.
When the sergeant hadn't been able to find a pulse, he gave her CPR but the only response was gurgling.
Her body was covered with extensive bruising and both eye sockets were blackened.
When an ambulance officer took over, he found bloodied clothing inside a washing machine and a clump of hair outside a window.
The trial is continuing.