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Victim’s family fights for changes to justice system

Family of a Penticton woman killed over a year ago have taken a huge step to ensure Lynn Kalmring’s death will never be forgotten.

“My goal at the end of the day is that there will be a law called Lynn’s Law and I really deep down in my heart believe that will happen,” said Kalmring’s sister Shelley Pertelson. “For me that is huge because it means she didn’t die for nothing. Helping others is what she did, and even though she is gone she is still helping others.

Kalmring was killed in her Penticton home in August of 2011. Her common-law husband, Keith Wiens, is accused of second-degree murder and is in jail awaiting a trial which is scheduled to start May 27 in Kelowna.

The family started a petition campaign shortly after Kalmring’s death, collecting signatures from those wanting changes to the bail proceedings system and victims rights. Frustration with the justice system spurred them to action. Wiens was initially released on bail back into the home where Kalmring was killed and into the community where her daughter still lives. The family believed he should have remained behind bars considering the accusations of such a violent crime. Wiens was eventually sent back to jail after allegedly breaching a bail condition that he must live under the supervision of his brother.

Pertelson, who lives in Salmon Arm, said it was a small victory to have Penticton MP Dan Albas read the petition in the House of Commons on Dec. 6. She said after her sister’s death she contacted all the MPs surrounding her area and only received a reply from one when Albas called to extend his condolences.

“He said he was very honoured to do it. When he presented it in the House of Commons he was wearing a button with Lynn’s picture on it and he got a huge applause,” said Pertelson. “For me it was very emotional and I am really hoping something will come of it. Just to think we have come that far in this past year when we are supposed to be grieving and we are dealing with all the legal stuff plus trying to create change for other people.”

A website, www.justiceforlynn.webs.com, was created to help the family circulate the petition and get the word out about the changes to the Canadian laws that they seek. They are calling for stricter bail requirements for violent crimes and for accused violent offenders to undergo stringent psychological testing prior to the bail hearing.

“We had three people comment on the website that are going through the same kind of things we are and now they want to get involved with changing the laws. There are lots of people out there that don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Pertelson. “This whole petition was for Lynn, but as we have moved along we now know it is more than just her, it’s for everyone.”

 

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