Keith Wiens stared at the floor as a judge handed a life sentence to the former policeman, for shooting and killing his unarmed spouse and attempting to cover it up by placing a knife in her hand.
Justice Geoff Barrow declared Mr. Wiens should not be eligible for parole for 13 years for the murder of Lynn Kalmring in their home in August 2011.
“I’m satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Wiens put the knife in her hand after the fact in order to deflect his responsibility for his conduct,” Justice Barrow said. “I do not believe his evidence and neither did the jury.”
Mr. Wiens, 56, shuffled off with the sheriff for the last time after the B.C. Supreme Court jury convicted him of second-degree murder. Dressed in red prison clothes, he never looked back at his brother, sister-in-law and another supporter in the gallery.
Ms. Kalmring’s family is happy the judge rejected Mr. Wiens’s defence that he shot her to protect himself when she stormed into their bedroom with a knife aimed at his throat.
“He’s got life in prison. That’s where he needs to be,” said Ms. Kalmring’s sister Donna Irwin. “He can’t get parole for at least 13 years, and then in those 13 years, we will be there at that parole hearing to make sure he never sees the light of day.”
The judge accepted the evidence of Shelley Peretelson, who spoke to her sister, Ms. Kalmring, by phone shortly before she was killed. Ms. Kalmring, 55, was upset but not angry that Mr. Wiens believed her working full time was more important than their relationship, Ms. Peretelson said.
Ms. Kalmring told her sister she’d thrown $2,000 of her savings and her ring at Mr. Wiens. She placed the cash in an orderly pile on the kitchen island after the argument, which contradicted Mr. Wiens’s description of her being in a state of frenzied anger, the judge said.
Three of Ms. Kalmring’s former spouses testified Ms. Kalmring was not violent in arguments, Barrow said. Attacking Mr. Wiens with a knife was uncharacteristic because she hated weapons. And Mr. Wiens was taller, 50 pounds heavier and a skilled RCMP veteran who could defend himself.
“It’s highly unlikely she’d attack him with or without a knife,” Justice Barrow said.
The body’s position on the floor also belied Mr. Wiens’s version of what happened. A pool of Ms. Kalmring’s blood on the bed suggested she was standing by the bed when he shot her. Yet she ended up on her back and closer to the door with her legs outstretched and her left arm extended perpendicular to her body.
“I accept she died instantly and collapsed in the location she was standing,” the judge said.
Mr. Wiens denied that finances were a source of friction between them. Yet he wrote an angry letter to Ms. Kalmring eight months earlier complaining she wasn’t paying household expenses.
His denial tainted his evidence entirely, Justice Barrow said.
“It was an issue in their relationship and it was an issue on Aug. 15.”
Mr. Wiens had no previous record and a 26-year career as a Mountie, much of it in Summerland. He submitted no character references and his adult son never attended the trial.
“It’s a good day. We’re all going to sleep well tonight, go back to our homes . . . and get on with our lives because that’s what Lynn would want,” Ms. Irwin said.
“We’re never going to get over it. We’re just getting through it. So now we can actually start the grieving process because we’ve never had that opportunity.”