Shocked doesn’t begin to describe the reaction of Lynn Kalmring’s family after they learned her alleged killer was granted bail.
Keith Gregory Wiens, a retired RCMP officer, was set free on bail conditions Monday after a hearing at the Kelowna courthouse. He was taken into custody on Aug. 16 in Penticton and charged with the second-degree murder of his 55-year-old common-law partner. The couple lived together in the gated-community of Sandbridge in the 3300 block of South Main Street.
“I want the whole world to know that he got let back out in the community. Everybody is terrified, my whole family is terrified that he is going to come after us,” said the victim’s sister Donna Irwin by phone from Vancouver. “How can they let someone like this back out into the community.”
Shaking their heads and uttering comments of disbelief, friends and family of the slain woman stormed out of the courtroom upon learning her accused killer would be set free. It was an emotional outpouring that left Justice Peter Rogers — who had yet to deliver the details of the release — unfazed.
An unshaven Wiens, who had opted to stand throughout the proceedings, also kept his gaze steady and forward, as reaction played out. When calm was restored, Justice Rogers explained that the criminal justice system views such matters from a different lens than “the person sitting across from you at Tim Hortons.”
“Even though this is a grave case … the public should not be so shocked by the release of Wiens by strict terms,” Justice Rogers said, stressing that an argument to justify further incarceration hadn’t been made.
Wiens, he assessed, is not a flight risk, nor does he appear to be a threat to others. He will be under the care of his brother James, who will move to the Penticton residence from Ontario to act as a surety until the eventual trial is complete. Strict conditions also accompany the release.
Wiens is to turn over his passport to the court, remain in B.C. and report weekly to a bail supervisor. He’s not to possess or consume alcohol or drugs, and must turn over all firearms. Contact with 14 people — largely family of the deceased — is prohibited. A deposit of $50,000 will also be left with the court.
“This is ridiculous — $50,000 bail that is all she is worth?” said Irwin, upset with what she believes is a portrayal of Wiens being an upstanding citizen. “I’m just sick … she loved him, trusted him. I am so angry right now that she has no rights and he just gets to live his life in the house where he murdered her. He gets to walk right into that house where she lived and go through the rest of her stuff.”
Irwin said her sister, who was a registered nurse and worked as a caregiver, leaves behind four sisters, two children and three grandchildren.
“She has two beautiful children who don’t have a mother now to call when they need advice,” sobbed Irwin. “Lynn has a big amazing infectious smile. She loved to be outside and was a free spirit. Her heart was bigger than anyone I know.”
Irwin last spoke to Kalmring about planning a trip to Phoenix to stay at a place her sister and Wiens had down south. She said they also were planning a surprise birthday party for their sister.
“It is just so heart-wrenching. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. The full extent of this violent event will have consequences we cannot fully see or be able to prepare for. Lynn’s death was tragic and our loss is deeper than words could ever express. We will never give up the fight for justice for our sister,” said Irwin.
— With files from Kathy Michaels, Kelowna Capital News