Chef May Have Cooked His Wife,
but Did He Murder Her?
but Did He Murder Her?
Sep 25, 2012 The Daily Beast
That’s the question jurors will decide as prosecutors wind up their testimony in the gruesome trial of chef David Viens. Christine Pelisek reports from the courtroom in LA.
|Owners David and Dawn Viens and a Germna chocolate cake display outside the |
Island Kitchen and Market. Miami Herald / MCT / Landov
Prosecutors made their final pitch yesterday in the trial of a Lomita, Calif., chef who told detectives that he slow-cooked his wife in a 55-pound pot before he drained her fat and hid her skull in the attic of his mother’s home.
“It sounds too gruesome, beyond comprehension and something you see in a made-for-television movie that is an exaggeration of real life,” said Los Angeles prosecutor Deborah Brazil in closing arguments. “This is no exaggeration.”
Brazil told the jury that David Viens killed his 39-year-old wife in their apartment on Oct. 18, 2009, in a fit of rage because he suspected she stole money from the sandwich shop they owned together, Thyme Contemporary Café. After he allegedly killed her, he put her 105-pound body in a garbage bag, drove to the sandwich shop, and boiled her body for four days in a pot, the prosecutor said. Then, he used a cart to wheel the pot outside to a nearby locked shed where he waited until the body was “unidentifiable,” Brazil said.
To make her point to the jury, Brazil played a portion of the audiotape of Viens’s alleged confession to police, in which he claimed that after he cooked her he “strategically placed the rest of her remains in the dumpster with garbage and other crap."
Viens, who denies he killed his wife intentionally, later told detectives that he hid her skull and jawbone in the attic of his mother’s house in Torrance. Brazil said he kept the remains because he planned to plant them in the mountains or desert so an unsuspecting hiker could find them and he could later claim, “oh my God, her skull was found in the desert,” she said.
The closing arguments marked the end of a 10-day trial that featured scores of teary-eyed witness testimonies, an outburst from Viens, and, most prominently, the audiotape of Viens’s alleged confession to police on March 1 and March 15, 2011, where he is heard explaining in gruesome detail how he bound his wife with duct tape, panicked when he awoke to find her dead and “cooked'’ her body for four days to get rid of her remains.
“There is not the evidence in this case that David Viens is guilty of first degree murder,” said defense attorney Fred McCurry. “Because there was a death it doesn’t mean it was murder.”
McCurry said that Viens’s statements to police cannot be trusted because he gave them from a hospital bed when he was high on a “cocktail of different medications.”
“We aren’t talking about a person walking around on two feet,” the defense attorney said. “We are talking about a person who is laid out in a hospital bed with all kinds of medication.”
Last week during the trial, Viens, now 49, lost a last-minute bid to act as his own attorney. In an outburst in front of the jury, Viens stood up and told superior court Judge Rand S. Rubin that he wanted to fire his attorney. “In my sound discretion, your request to represent yourself is respectfully denied,” the judge told Viens.
The investigation into Dawn Viens’s disappearance began on Nov. 18, 2009, when her sister, Dayna Papin, and friends reported her missing. In a police interview, Viens told police he and his wife, who met in the 1990s when David was still married to his first wife, got into a fight about her drinking and she needed time on her own . . . .
Full story at The Daily Beast