A storm brewing over Kelowna on Wednesday caused lights to flicker in the courtroom where a Penticton man is facing charges of murdering his common law spouse.
For the family of Lynn Kalmring, the woman Keith Wiens is accused of shooting in their shared residence in Penticton, Aug. 16, 2011, it was just another sign she’s watching over them.
“She has been around us a lot,” said Kalmring’s sister Donna Irwin. “One time there was a fire alarm that went off right at a crucial point and we thought that was probably Lynn.
Then the lights flickering on and off today, that was probably her saying we are coming to the end of this and we are going to see justice.”
The trial, which started in June and was adjourned until the beginning of July, has put emotional and physical strain on the dead woman’s family said Irwin. Now their patience will be tested as the jury was excused until Monday while lawyers go over the evidence with Justice Geoff Barrow as he prepares his charge to the jury. Defence for Wiens said they were not quite prepared to rest their case and if they do call another person to testify it will be brief, meaning both sides will be prepared to provide closing arguments at the beginning of next week. The case is expected to be in the jury’s hands by Wednesday.
“I feel really good now, we just hope the justice system doesn’t let us down. Justice for Lynn is what we have been fighting for this whole time,” said Irwin. “The sleepless nights, the tears, the horrible things we have had to listen to and see — I hope we get the verdict we are looking for.”
Wiens, a retired RCMP officer, got on the stand last week to offer his version of the events.
He testified a small argument over a bet placed on a video game escalated into a full-blown fight and he admitted to firing a shot into Kalmring’s head, but stated it was in self-defence as she came at him with a knife. He said she was drunk and assaulted him, later returning to the bedroom with a knife and rushed at him.
Wiens said he stepped backwards raised his gun and shot Kalmring in the head and she fell backwards into a seated position, exhaled her last breath and collapsed onto her back. He then said he puked in the toilet and called 911, telling police something “got out of hand here tonight.”
Earlier in the trial crown witness Dr. Currie, a pathologist, testified his findings showed someone put a knife in Kalmring’s hand after she fell to the ground and died.
Crown counsel Colin Forsyth earlier suggested Wiens staged it there after her death to strengthen his side of the events that he was under attack when he shot his common law spouse in the face.
This argument was supported by forensic anthropologist Sgt. Diane Cockle who said from her analysis of photos from the scene and autopsy that Kalmring’s body was either handled or moved after she was shot.
On Thursday, defence for Wiens put their own expert on the stand who contradicted those conclusions.
“That the left hand was moved shortly after death cannot be sustained with the evidence at hand,” said Dr. John Butt, whose long history as a chief coroner and medical examiner led defence and crown to determine his testimony as that of an expert.
The doctor stated that in his opinion no one could come to the conclusion Kalmring’s hand was moved after death. He said that stains left from blood flow after death on the back of her hand were more likely a suntan, not the cause of someone moving her hand.
Butt also took exception to the procedures Currie used to come to his conclusions about the body, specifically failing to take notes or use a dictation machine while at the scene.
“It’s extraordinary that one wouldn’t do that,” he said.
Defence also put their own blood spatter analyst on the stand and the consultant told the jury that Wiens’ testimony fit with the evidence that has been presented, although he couldn’t disclaim opinions of the crown’s experts.