July 24, 2013 - 6:32 AM
KELOWNA - It took just five hours of deliberation for jurors to decide Keith Gregory Wiens was guilty of second degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Lynn Kalmring. After two months of trial proceedings family and friends of the victim gathered at Kelowna Supreme Court around 8 p.m. in nervous anticipation of the long-awaited verdict.
Kalmring was found shot to death August 16 of 2011 in the master bedroom of the Penticton home she shared with Wiens, her common-law partner. Wiens claimed he was acting in self-defence when he shot Kalmring in the head at close range when a domestic dispute turned hostile. A large kitchen knife was found in the left hand of the victim at the crime scene. But the crown argued Wiens intentionally shot his wife out of anger in the heat of the moment, planting the knife in the victim's hand to justify his actions as self-defence.
A loud "yeah" was heard from the gallery when the jury foreman annouced the guilty verdict, along with sighs and tears of relief.
Wiens himself sat expressionless in the custody box.
The jury recommended he serve 20 years in jail before he's elligible for parole. The minimum life sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison without parole eligibility for ten years.
Outside the courthouse Kalmring's family members shared their relief.
Kalmring's sister, Shelley Pertelson, who also testified in the trial, said she felt a sick stomach listening to the verdict.
"It's taken them two years and now my sister gets to rest in peace," she says.
Being in the same court room with the accused throughout the trial proved tense for the family.
"I just couldn't stop staring him down," she said. "And for him to say how much he loved my sister...."
Pertelson says the enraged and aggressive depiction of Kalmring in Wiens' testimony couldn't have been true.
"That's not my sister.... The last thing my sister said to me is: "obviously money is more important than love to him."
Kalmring made a phone call to Pertelson just 20 minutes prior to the shooting, in tears over a dispute about finances in which Wiens told her she needed to get a job.
Pertelson says she and the family did their best to keep their emotions in check while listening to the defence's version of the night of the shooting.
"It was hard not to say anything but everyone had to tell their story. In my heart I knew the truth."
WIens will hear his sentence this afternoon. Justice Geoff Barrow will determine the length of the jail sentence, which could be a maximum of 25 years before parole eligibility.
"I think at this point, the longer the better," Pertelson says.
"But I believe tonight justice has been served. It's a good feeling."
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013