July 23, 2013 - 7:57 AM
KELOWNA - It was anger—not fear—that led Keith Gregory Wiens to shoot his partner Lynn Kalmring in the heat of the moment.
Crown lawyer Colin Forsyth told jurors in his closing submissions Monday that while the jury can never know Kalmring's point of view, her story speaks through the crime scene where she was found shot to death and in the material evidence left behind—including the blood-stained kitchen knife found in her left hand.
Wiens' defence counsel argued the jurors have only the words of the accused to guide their decision. Wiens claims he had no other motive than self-defence when he shot Kalmring, his common-law partner, at close range in their Penticton home on August 16, 2011.
But in his closing submission, Forsyth cautioned the jury to consider the “totality of the evidence.”
The evidence, he said, leads to one “inescapable conclusion:” Wiens is guilty of second degree murder.
Long-standing resentment and anger drove the accused to fire the fatal bullet, Forsyth said. While defence counsel describes the night of the shooting as a sudden storm that spiralled out of control and into a devastating mistake, Forsyth suggested the conflict can be traced back to January of 2011 when Wiens wrote a letter to Kalmring in the early hours of New Year's Day.
In the letter Wiens writes "I don't take kindly to being told 'fuck you'" threatening he would sell their vacation home if she didn't start contributing financially.
On the night of the shooting Kalmring was not the “crazed homicidal woman Wiens made her to be,” Forsyth said. Wiens' version of events is “contrived and exaggerated,” he said, asking the jury to carefully consider Shelley Pertelson's description of the last conversation she had with her sister just 20 minutes before Wiens dialed 911.
“It's obvious money is more important than love to him,” Kalmring told her sister, in tears over a dispute in which Wiens told her, “bottom line, get a fucking job.”
It was sadness Pertelson detected in her sister's voice that night, Forsyth said. Kalmring told her sister she loved Wiens and didn't want to leave him, “so why would she want to kill or hurt him?” Forsyth asked.
On top of that, Kalmring had a known aversion to weapons and guns. Her son-in-law John McPhee recalls Kalmring's disapproval of his knife collection. Three ex-husbands of the victim also testified they never had violent or hostile fights during their marriages. Even when drinking, Kalmring was described to be peaceable and light-hearted.
“It simply does not make sense,” that a woman who was never known to be violent would arm herself with a knife, Forsyth argued.
Forsyth also advised the jury to consider the quality of opinions provided by expert witnesses – including that of forensic pathologist Sgt. Diane Cockle, who found blood stains on the knife in the victim's hand made by contact – not blood flow.
Evidence from the autopsy doctor Gilles Molgat doesn't rule out the possiblity the victim suffered a bloody nose, which would account for blood stains prior to the gunshot. The autopsy also revealed bruises on the victim's upper arm, right hand, knee, which could have been made within 24 hours of death.
It would have taken force to pry the knife from the victim's hand if she had post-mortem spasms, Forsyth said. Yet crime scene investigator Cpl. France Burke testified the knife slid easly from the victim's hand when she removed it.
Even if the victim was holding a knife at the time, doctor William Currie testified that it would have dropped from the instant loss of motor control, or knocked from her hand by the impact of falling to the floor. However the knife was found carefully pointed towards the floor, Forsyth said.
In his 911 call where Wiens admits he shot his wife, he tells the operator he made a "big, huge mistake," and for police not to shoot him.
"Self-defence is not a mistake," Forsyth told the jury, but shooting someone out of anger and then regretting it would be a mistake.
When making their decision, Forsyth asked the jurors to dismiss Wiens' testimony entirely and instead focus on the character of the victim as described by witnesses. He insists there is no way Wiens, an ex-cop, would have feared a woman younger, shorter and lighter than him.
He intended to shoot Kalmring, "and that is murder," Forsyth said.
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