July 20, 2013 - 8:30 AM
A RECAP OF EVIDENCE AHEAD OF JURY DECISION NEXT WEEK
KELOWNA - Next week twelve jurors will decide whether they find Keith Gregory Wiens guilty of second degree murder in the August 16, 2011 shooting of Lynn Kalmring. Police found Kalmring lying in a pool of blood in the master bedroom of her Penticton home where she resided with Wiens, her common-law partner. She was found holding a large kitchen knife in her left hand.
The jury will have to decide on the crucial matter of whether or not the knife was placed in the victim's hand after death.
Wiens said he was acting in self-defence when he fired a bullet into the victim's head at close-range. He says he feared for his life when a domestic dispute got out of hand and Kalmring approached him with the knife aimed at his chest. As a retired RCMP corporal with extensive weapons training, Wiens says he was acting on instinct when he pulled the trigger.
He says Kalmring was enraged he would leave her and meet another woman.
But shortly before her death, Kalmring made a late night phone call to her sister Shelley Pertelson. Pertelson was the first witness in the trial that began May 30. She testified her sister was upset – not angry - that Wiens cared more about money than love, telling her that night: “bottom line, get a fucking job.”
Evidence suggests financial matters were a point of tension for the couple. Police who attended the crime scene found $2,005 in American money, a diamond ring and financial documents sitting conspicuously on the kitchen island of the couple's home in the gated Sanbridge community of Penticton.
But when Wiens took the stand, he explained it was his money to cover bills from the couple's trip to Arizona, from which they returned just a month before the shooting. Wiens says he bought a vacation home just outside of Phoenix, putting half the title in Kalmring's name.
In their six-year relationship, which started through an online dating site, Wiens says they never fought over money.
"We got along fabulously.... We had a great relationship until the day she died," he told the jury during his testimony, wiping his eyes with a tissue.
But a three-page handwritten letter reveals the couple had a financial dispute earlier that year.
On New Year's day Wiens wrote a letter to Kalmring telling her he would have to sell their Arizona property if she couldn't pay her share of the expenses, "giving you a very nice profit for doing fuck all," the letter reads.
Other witnesses also testified Wiens was frustrated about Kalmring's lack of income. Kalmring's daughter Brandy Cumming said Wiens made some derogatory comments about her mother at a family picnic a couple weeks prior to the shooting.
“He told me that my mom better get her ass back to work... that she had better start pulling her weight,” she told the court. Wiens told her he had a pension from the RCMP to fall back on but, “she doesn't have a pot to piss in.” Cumming's husband John McPhee also recalls Wiens telling him Kalmring "better get her shit together."
Wiens insists he never used those words.
While defence lawyer Chris Evans told the jury Wiens is the only one who can explain what happened the night of the shooting, the crown said evidence from the crime scene tells another story.
In an otherwise immaculate home, forensic experts analyzed the blood-spattered master bedroom where Kalmring's body was found. Doctor William Currie was the first doctor to observe the victim.
In his testimony, he explained the victim couldn't have been holding a knife when killed because the instantaneous brain trauma caused by the gunshot would cause her to drop whatever she was holding. Currie also said the bluish discolouration on the palm of the knife-hand indicates the victim had died with the hand face down—not in the upright position where the knife was found.
Blood stain analyst Sgt. Diane Cockle supported this theory, arguing the blood stains covering the victim's left hand would have been blocked by the knife.
Cockle also said some blood stains, like those found on the inside of Kalmring's nightgown, came before the gunshot spatter in what she described as a prior bloodletting. Crown lawyer Colin Forsyth suggested this blood would have come from Wiens striking the victim in anger before shooting her.
But the forensic experts called by the defence say there is no evidence from the crime scene to indicate the knife was placed in the victim's hand.
Private consultant Joseph Slemko says all the blood stains at the crime scene came from the single gunshot wound, which would have caused various stains on the victim's body and the surrounding area. Doctor John Butt also discounted the discoloration of settled blood as evidence the hand was manipulated. Butt explained it takes at least 10 hours before lividity patterns fixate.
It will be up to the jury to decide whether the evidence presented over the past two months is sufficient to prove Wiens guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Justice Geoff Barrow instructed the jurors that Wiens stands innocent before the court and they must be near absolute certainty before finding otherwise.
The crown and defence counsel will present their closing arguments Monday before jurors are sequestered to determine their verdict.
Family members of victim Lynn Kalmring gathered outside the Kelowna Supreme Court today, following an unexpected adjournment of the jury trial.
(JULIE WHITTET /InfoTel Multimedia)
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013