Crown counsel still pursuing breach charge on convicted murderer Wiens
The man convicted of second-degree murder of his wife in their Penticton home was back in court this week preparing to set a trial date for a breach of conditions charge.
Instead, the trial confirmation hearing took a turn on Monday at the Penticton provincial courthouse as Keith Gregory Wiens put a number of applications before the court including asking to be assigned a lawyer.
“Legal aid turned me down and I am requesting a lawyer be appointed to me,” said Wiens via video from Kent Institution where he is under protective custody and allowed one hour a day out of his cell. “This is a David-versus-Goliath scenario and puts me at a disadvantage. No offence to the Kent prison system, but I’m lucky if I can get a photocopy within a three-week period.”
Wiens, a former Summerland RCMP officer, was sentenced in July to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years for the second-degree murder of his common-law wife Lynn Kalmring. Wiens shot Kalmring in the face with a handgun at close range.
One month after being sentenced Wiens put forward an application to appeal the guilty verdict. He argues his sentence is “excessive.”
Crown counsel spokesperson Neil Mackenzie said generally the Court of Appeal tries to have matters heard within a year of it being filed and at this point Wiens appeal date has not been set. He added it is possible for Wiens to apply for bail.
“It certainly is not unheard of for people who are charged with murder or facing murder charges to be released on bail and it is not unheard of for people who are convicted to be released on bail pending an appeal,” said Mackenzie. “Again it is decided on a case-by-case basis … the accused has to meet a different onus than if a person hasn’t been convicted.”
Mackenzie said as in any other bail situation, whether or not a person has prior convictions or a history of not complying with bail terms are various factors that would be taken into account during the bail hearing in front of a judge.
After being arrested for the murder on Aug. 16, 2011, Wiens was permitted bail with a list of conditions to abide by. One of those included having his brother reside with him in Penticton. RCMP arrested Wiens in January 2012 when they arrived to conduct a check to ensure he was complying with conditions.
On Monday Crown counsel stated they are going to provide evidence that the brother had returned to Ontario for work and had not been living in the Penticton residence for a period of time.
Crown counsel also had their own application before the court to allow four witnesses from Ontario who will be testifying to give their evidence via closed-circuit video. Wiens argued that he should have the right to cross-examine the witnesses personally.
Crown counsel, Vern Frolick, said the witnesses credibility was not under scrutiny and they would be providing factual evidence on whether or not the brother was at work in Ontario during the time Wiens is being accused of being under breach of his conditions. Frolick said it also would be a burden on the witnesses to have to travel that far to provide their brief evidence.
Judge Meg Shaw gave her decision on Monday that she would allow the witnesses to testify via video.
“I don’t find there to be any prejudice to Mr. Wiens to allow this,” said Shaw.
The judge ordered that the matter will return to court on Jan. 10 to deal strictly with the issue of Wiens’ application to be appointed a lawyer. Wiens also has an application before the court that he wants to argue because of extensive delays, not of his doing, the charge should be dropped.