LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former Lomita restaurant owner and chef was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder in the death of his wife.
KNX 1070′s Claudia Peschiutta reports David Viens, 49, told detectives he bound his wife with duct tape, panicked when he awoke to find her dead, and “cooked” her body for four days to get rid of her remains.
Defense attorney Fred McCurry had argued that 39-year-old Dawn Viens’ death was an accident and asked jurors to set aside their emotions when deliberating the case.
“The evidence does not support murder,” Viens’ lawyer told the jury. “It does not support anything other than this was an accident. Just because there was a death doesn’t mean there was a murder.”
Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil says Dawn Viens, who disappeared in October 2009, likely died more violently than her husband described in interviews with sheriff’s investigators.
“And that is why the defendant needed the four days to completely destroy and dispose of Dawn Viens’ body,” Brazil said.
She noted that the defense was asking jurors to believe Viens’ account that he dumped his wife’s body in a trash bin while setting aside “the more gruesome explanation that he cooked her for four days” after her death.
Viens was in court in a wheelchair earlier this week when the case was given to a six-man, six-woman jury.
He was injured after jumping off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes in February 2011, shortly after telling his girlfriend and daughter that his wife’s death was an accident.
Juror Tal Erickson said he took the fact that Viens jumped off of a cliff into consideration.
“My opinion is, that if he was innocent, he wouldn’t have jumped off a cliff,” he said.
Viens told sheriff’s detectives in March 2011 that “for some reason I just got violent” and that he bound his wife’s mouth, hands and feet with duct tape. He said he had taped her up “probably twice” on other occasions because he “didn’t want her driving around wasted, whacked out on coke and drinking.”
He told investigators he woke up four hours later and panicked once he discovered that she was dead, then cooked her body before dumping her remains in the trash.
Karen Patterson, Dawn’s best friend, said the victim confided in her that she was abused by Viens, but was asked by Dawn not to tell authorities.
“For the rest of my life, I wished I would have called. I know none of this is my fault, I know David murdered Dawn,” she said.
Dawn’s sister, Dayna Papin, said she doesn’t hate Viens.
“This is a man I’ve known for 20 years… who was like a father to me. I will deal with how I feel about him,” she said.
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