Chef David Viens Convicted Of Killing And Cooking His Wife, Dawn Viens
Former chef and restaurateur David Viens, 49, showed no emotion in court on Thursday as a Los Angeles jury convicted him of second-degree murder for killing his wife, Dawn Viens, in 2009 before he reportedly boiled her body over the course of four days to get rid of the evidence.
While the prosecution initially went for a first-degree murder conviction, the jury bought the defense's claim that Viens never intended to kill his wife on the night of October 18, 2009, when the couple had a dispute, according to the defense, about Dawn allegedly stealing money from their restaurant. He went home, duct-taped her mouth, bound her hands and feet — something he had done before in efforts to calm her "histrionics" — and fell asleep.
Hours later, Viens claims he woke up to find his wife dead. "I woke up. I panicked," he said, reports the Los Angeles Times. "She was hard." Viens was convinced that no one would believe he hadn't intended to kill his wife, so he disposed of her in a dumpster outside his Lomita, Calif. restaurant.
However, Viens' daughter and later girlfriend, Kathy Galvan, both of whom testified for the prosecution, heard different stories from Viens when he started to realize the police were on to him over half a year later. "I cooked her four days, I let her cool, I strained it out," he told them, into the grease trap of his restaurant, while disposing of "other remains" in the trash. The skull, he said, he hid in his mother's attic, though it was never found.
When authorities had him cornered — literally — at the edge of a cliff near Rancho Palos Verdes, Viens jumped off, but survived the 80-foot fall, shattering his leg and his pelvis and confining himself to a wheelchair. It was then, from the hospital six days after his fall, reports the Daily News, that he revealed the cooking story to detectives, saying that he boiled Dawn's body at night and wheeled the huge pot with her remains into a storage shed during the day when the restaurant was open for business.
There were a series of conflicting stories and reports from Viens, possibly affected by the cocktail of drugs given to him by doctors, and Viens, later retracting the boiling story, claimed he was "confused … because of the dreams and stuff I've had," reports the L.A. Times, but he still confessed to killing his wife — accidentally or not.
Juror Tal Erickson later told media that the jury settled on second-degree murder "based on the evidence," not stories that could not be confirmed. "I think he has anger management problems," Erickson added. "He's shown no remorse, no apology, nothing."
"There's no happy ending," said Dawn's sister, Dayna Papin, who burst into tears in the courtroom when the verdict was read, after sitting through all two weeks of the trial. "I don't think there [are] any winners or losers. Two families have suffered tremendously and we will continue to."
One of the couple's friends, Karen Patterson, who also testified for the prosecution, said, "Dawn told me he loved her so much and would never hurt her." Instead, "he treated her — literally — like a piece of meat and got rid of her."
Viens faces 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced in November.
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