Keith Gregory Wiens first met Lynn Kalmring through an online dating site. He was retired after 26 years in the police force, his last position as a corporal with the Summerland RCMP detachment. While living with Kalmring he worked as a school bus driver and was preparing for a comfortable retirement.
“We were going to live happily ever after,” he said, addressing jury members for the first time today in Kelowna Supreme Court.
Wiens is charged with second degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Kalmring, his common-law partner.
In his opening address to the jury today, defence lawyer Chris Evans said “there's no question” the accused shot Kalmring. But he also told the jury Wiens will explain how the tragedy couldn't be avoided. The accused feared for his own safety when attacked by his wife who was found holding a “large lethal kitchen knife” at the crime scene, Evans said.
The theory the knife was placed in her hand after being shot is “preposterous,” Evans said. He reminded the jury Wiens is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Describing his relationship with the victim, Wiens said the two were very happy together.
“We got along fabulously,” he said, unable to recall ever fighting with the victim or ever raising their voices to each other.
“We had a great relationship until the day she died,” he told the jury. But on August 16, 2011, Wiens shot Kalmring in the master bedroom of their Penticton home.
The bullet that took Kalmring's life came from a CZ model nine millimetre handgun Wiens kept in his dresser drawer. The gun was not unlike the semi-automatic handguns he trained with at Carleton Place in Ontario where he spent six months taking courses on “shooting people” in hostage and terrorist situations.
One training scenario involved a “killing house,” set up with mannequins and silhouette targets, he says and during his training he fired tens of thousands of rounds.
In 2011 Wiens bought a vacation home just outside Phoenix, Arizona where he and Kalmring planned to spend the winters together. He says he “paid for it in its entirety,” but put half the house in Kalmring's name to show “good faith” in their relationship. Prior to that he said he also purchased a home in Penticton's premier gated community, Sandbridge, which was Kalmring's idea.
While Kalmring wanted to get married, Wiens says he wasn't ready for it.
“I showed good faith” he said, by buying her the house and a “big fancy ring.”
Upon returning from a one-month vacation in Arizona on July 29, 2011, Wiens says Kalmring was stressed about work. He says she was “quieter than usual” and “probably a bit depressed.” Kalmring had quit her job as a licensed practical nurse and was instead teaching students to become care aids.
“She more or less gave up nursing,” he said.
Just a couple weeks prior to the tragic shooting the course she was supposed to teach was cancelled.
“She had no job” Wiens said.
He, on the other hand, was content with bus driving. “I had a good job,” he says, but was also considering working in Grand Prairie with Kalmring's son, to make “quick money” that would bring him closer to his retirement goal.
In early August, Wiens and Kalmring went on a picnic at Okanagan Falls with her daughter's family. Wiens was asked today if he made any derogatory remarks about Kalmring during that picnic, as described by witnesses earlier in the trial.
He says he merely told Kalmring's son-in-law, “she's going to have to go back to work.”
Wiens will continue his testimony tomorrow describing the events leading up to the shooting. The defence will also call their own expert witnesses to refute claims made by doctor William Currie and blood spatter analyst Sgt. Diane Cockle.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.