A Penticton man convicted of second-degree murder has filed an appeal claiming his sentence is “excessive.”
In a hand-written court document filed on Aug. 23, Keith Wiens states his “unblemished past” was not properly presented to court at sentencing and the length of non-eligibility for parole is unfair given his background.
Wiens was charged and convicted of shooting to death his common-law partner Lynn Kalmring in the couple’s Penticton home on Aug. 16, 2011. The trial by jury took place this past summer in Kelowna. It took jurors just six hours of deliberation before coming back with the guilty verdict. They believed evidence heard at trial that Wiens shot Kalmring in the face with a nine-millimetre handgun after a long-brewing argument over finances finally boiled over.
Justice Geoff Barrow sentenced Wiens to life in prison with no chance of parole for 13 years. The former Mountie still faces two breach of bail condition charges, to which he has pled not guilty.
Wiens is also appealing the conviction because Justice Barrow apparently did not give proper weight to the evidence given by Joseph Slemko, a blood spatter expert.
“This evidence was very credible, but Justice Barrow more or less excluded it. The evidence by Mr. Slemko should have/could have acquitted me,” claims Wiens, who also suggests proper weight was not put onto the fact no DNA fingerprints or gunshot residue was found on the knife.
Throughout the trial, Wiens asserted he acted in self-defence. He said Kalmring had a knife and came after him. Crown counsel suggested to the jury that Wiens placed the knife in Kalmring’s hand after her death.
Wiens argues a Crown counsel “suggestion” in court caused “very severe bias” of the jury against him. He also claims that during a voir dire, a trial within a trial to see if evidence can be submitted to the jury, testimony of Shelly Pertelson, one of Kalmring’s sisters, was disallowed. He wrote that during Crown counsel Colin Forsyth’s charge to the jury he told them her evidence was “credible and should be believed.”
Among other points, Wiens states Justice Barrow said at sentencing the shooting was “senseless, impulsive and fuelled by alcohol.”
“Is this not manslaughter?” Wiens wrote.
Donna Irwin, sister of Kalmring, said she received a letter about Wiens’ intentions five days after he filed for appeal.
“This is like a slap in the face,” said Irwin. “He obviously has no remorse in what he has done. The family continues to be in pain.”
Irwin expected an appeal, but she doesn’t believe he will get it. Still, there is always a chance.
“Yes, it scares me and the rest of the family. We still haven’t really had the chance to mourn and grieve and we might have to go through this all over again,” said Irwin.
A civil suit was launched by Kalmring’s estate against Wiens on Dec. 22, 2011. Irwin also has a civil suit versus Wiens filed on Jan. 20, 2012.
The townhouse Kalmring was murdered in, where the couple resided, did not have her name on the title, but Irwin said her sister’s name is on the title of another property in Arizona. Even though it has been over two years since Kalmring was killed, the family has not had access to either residence where many of her personal effects are kept.
“We haven’t been able to get to any of her things. She has gifts for her grandchildren in those homes and things that she would want her daughter to have,” said Irwin, who expects the civil procedures to take up to two years before they get solved. “It just shows that victims’ families have no rights and we want to see that changed.”
Kalmring’s family is also concerned Wiens has people working for him outside of jail that do have access to the Penticton home and could be getting rid of the sentimental items they want back. It is why they are still raising their voices asking the federal government for stricter bail requirements for violent crimes and for amendments to the National Victims Bill of Rights.
Irwin said Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas has presented their petition to the House of Commons and the family potentially could be going to Ottawa to present their petition and personal story.