There were emotional scenes in a Christchurch courtroom on Monday as the jury and members of the public heard how 22-year-old Renee Duckmanton was strangled to death before her body was dumped and burnt.
Sainey Marong, a 33-year-old butcher, has been charged with the death of Ms Duckmanton, who was last seen on Peterborough and Manchester streets in the city's red light district on May 14, 2016. Ms Duckmanton worked as sex worker in the area.
Marong denies murdering her.
Members of the public gallery cried as the Crown described how Ms Duckmanton was allegedly strangled to death.
Her body was then dumped on the side of the road near the Rakaia River and burnt.
Crown prosecutor Sean Mallett alleges Marong picked Ms Duckmanton up for a job worth $300. The Crown claims Marong's DNA was found on a lighter and beanie at the scene where her body was found.
In her final hours, Ms Duckmanton made contact with her boyfriend - her phone, which she sent the text messages with, has never been found.
Defence lawyer Jonathan Krebs told the jury what has happened was best understood "through the lens of mental imbalance".
Around 100 witnesses will be called throughout the trial, which will include Ms Duckmanton's boyfriend and forensic experts.
CCTV footage will also be played for the jury.
The trial is set to last three weeks in the Christchurch High Court.