LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The case of a former Lomita restaurant owner who told sheriff’s detectives he bound his wife with duct tape, panicked when he found she was dead and “cooked” her body for four days to get rid of her remains has been given to a jury to deliberate.

Defense attorney Fred McCurry says 39-year-old Dawn Viens’ death was an accident and asked jurors to set aside their emotions when deliberating the case against 49-year-old David Viens.

“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 as a result of injuries he suffered after jumping off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes in February 2011, shortly after telling his girlfriend that his wife’s death was an accident. He had also told his daughter that his wife had died accidentally.

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 for four days before dumping her remains in the trash.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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