July 24, 2013 - 5:16 PM
"LYNN AND I HAD A GREAT RELATIONSHIP:" TEARFUL WIENS ON THE WOMAN HE MURDERED
KELOWNA - Former Mountie Keith Gregory Wiens wept openly, wiping tears from his face, as he apologized to the court and the family of his common-law wife Lynn Kalmring, who he shot in the face over an argument about money.
He was convicted of second degree murder by a jury last night and was back in Kelowna Supreme Court today, in red prison garb, for a sentencing hearing.
There's little to haggle over. Wiens is sentenced to a mandatory minimum of life imprisonment. What lawyers argued over today was how long he will have to sit in prison before he has a chance at parole.
The jury, when asked last night, recommended 20 years. Today Crown prosecutor Colin Forsyth stepped back considerably from the unanimous take from the jury to suggest 12 to 15 years before parole eligibility.
Forsyth said it was clear the jury rejected Wien's claim of self-defence when he shot his wife at close range with a handgun, leaving the victim with a “particularly disfiguring” and fatal wound. The sentence should also reflect that Wiens manipulated the scene following the murder, Forsyth said.
Kalmring was found with a large kitchen knife in her left hand at the scene of the crime. The jury clearly believed Wiens put it there to make it look as though he was physically threatened before shooting her. However defence lawyer Ian McKay argued the jury's verdict does not indicate whether or not they believed Wiens staged the scene.
“We don't know what the jury found on that,” he told the court and to qualify as an aggravating factor in sentencing, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt Wiens planted the knife.
Nor was it clear Wiens had a motive in the shooting, McKay said. While the Crown argued it was a financial dispute that triggered the couple's final confrontation, McKay said he still doesn't see how that's a motive for murder.
The defence insists the shooting was an isolated incident in the otherwise rosy relationship Wiens and Kalmring shared. With no prior spousal abuse, a clean record and 26 years serving with the RCMP, Wiens should be credited for his good character, McKay says.
The defence suggested Wiens serve 10 to a maximum of 12 years in prison before parole eligibility and requested Justice Geoff Barrow not put too much weight on the jury's recommended sentence.
“There wasn't a lot of sympathy,” McKay says of the jury.
Wiens stood before the court to apologize to family and friends of the victim.
“Lynn and I had a great relationship,” he said, expressing how he loved Kalmring dearly.
Wiping his face with tissue, he shared with the court a favourite memory of Kalmring when they returned home from a motorbike trip to Naramata Valley. He remembers her hair flowing behind her and her telling him, “I beat you home Keith.”
Now when he wakes in the morning he sees “that beautiful smile” and says to himself “you beat me home Lynn.”
Outside court a family member of the victim, Maggie Leslie, expressed her frustration that Wiens was given the opportunity to speak before her family was able to read their victim impact statement.
“Instead he's allowed up there to tell his story,” Leslie said, not appreciating his attempt to offer insight into the couple's life.
Justice Barrow reserved his decision on sentencing for tomorrow morning.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at email@example.com or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013