Convicted Penticton murderer still fighting breach charge

Convicted of second-degree murder, Keith Wiens is back before the Penticton courts fighting a 2.5 year old breach of conditions charge. - File Photo
Convicted of second-degree murder, Keith Wiens is back before the Penticton courts fighting a 2.5 year old breach of conditions charge.
— image credit: File Photo

A convicted murderer from Penticton is still facing a 2.5-year-old breach charge that is being stick-handled through court.

Keith Gregory Wiens told Penticton provincial court on Wednesday, while appearing via video from Kent Institution, he is frustrated at the long process. He questioned the Crown's intentions for pursuing the breach for so long and why as soon as he filed for appeal on a second-degree murder conviction, "all of a sudden this came back to life."

"Crown counsel came back with the hammer and nail to put me back up on the cross," said Wiens.

A jury found Wiens guilty last summer of shooting his common-law partner Lynn Kalmring in the couple's Penticton home on Aug. 16, 2011. They believed evidence that Wiens shot Kalmring in the face with a handgun after an argument over finances boiled over, and sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years. Wiens claims it was manslaughter.

Still looming in the court system is the single breach of conditions charge. Wiens was given bail just two weeks after being arrested for the second-degree murder of Kalmring. He was to be under the care of his brother, who was ordered by the court to move into Wiens' Penticton residence and act as surety until the trial was complete.

Four months later Wiens found himself back behind bars when he was charged with violating his bail conditions. RCMP allege Wiens' brother had returned to Ontario and had not been living with him at some point.

The implications of a breach of conditions conviction could be far-reaching, Crown counsel John Swanson told the Western News outside of the courthouse.

Wiens is currently appealing his second-degree murder charge, claiming his sentence is excessive considering his "unblemished past." Besides a few other points, Wiens also argues the length of non-eligibility of parole, 13 years, is unfair given his background.

If Wiens gets the appeal on the second-degree murder conviction approved, his past record could be something the judge takes into consideration should he apply for bail, said Swanson.

The matter has not been before the Court of Appeal yet, but a Crown spokesperson said generally it could take up to a year. Wiens filed his appeal on Aug. 23, 2013.

Kalmring's family, who have launched civil suits against Wiens, said the appeal is like "a slap in the face." They admitted they expected an appeal but don't believe he will get it, although the thought of him out in the community they live in scares them.

Wiens told the court Wednesday morning that he was disposing of his application for a court appointed lawyer due to advice received from Crown. He alleged at his last appearance in January that Crown said this was a simple matter and he would not need a lawyer to represent him.

Since then, Wiens said, he received a letter from Crown counsel stating just the opposite and this is a very serious matter.

Wiens then changed his mind during the Wednesday afternoon appearance in front of Judge Gregory Koturbash, and said that he did want to go forward with the application for a court-appointed lawyer.

Swanson told the court for the record, "Crown denies any allegations made by Mr. Wiens."

The judge has adjourned the matter for 30 days to return to see where the application process is at. Wiens admitted it takes time to mail out letters and receive responses from prison.

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