Keith Wiens sobbed tears into a tissue on Wednesday talking about his common-law spouse who he was found guilty of killing, shooting her in the head with a handgun.
But for the family of Lynn Kalmring the almost two years they’ve had to wait for the day his verdict would be heard, his emotional outpour meant nothing.
“He was shaking and sobbing, it just was such a show,” said Donna Irwin, sister of the dead woman. “He said how much he loved Lynn and he remembers going on a motorbike ride with her and her blond hair blowing in the wind. Oh my god, it was just pathetic. It was all for him. He never once spoke of remorse. He was crying for himself because he is going away for a long time.”
While the family spoke throughout the trial of feeling Kalmring’s presence in the Kelowna courthouse, as they sat holding hands waiting for the decision made by the 12 jurors there was no doubt she was with them.
“She was there. All of the sisters got a small urn of Lynn’s ashes. One was wearing hers inside a locket on a necklace. My other sister had them in the small urn and we made sure Lynn was there to hear the verdict,” said Irwin.
Wiens, a former RCMP officer once posted at the Summerland detachment, received an automatic life sentence for second-degree murder and will have to serve at least 13 years in prison before he can apply for parole. Justice Geoff Barrow said on Thursday he did not believe Wiens testimony, stating the murder was “impulsive” and came from a mix of anger and alcohol.
It was in August 2011 that Wiens called 911 stating that he shot his wife and it was a “big, huge mistake” and “something got out of hand here tonight.” He testified that Kalmring had got into an argument with him and he told her to sleep in a separate room. He said he was later awoken to her beating him up and when she left the room again he armed himself with a 9mm handgun. It was when he was faced with her again coming at him, this time with a knife, that he said he shot her in the head and she fell to the floor.
A letter recovered from the scene at a townhouse in the Sandbridge gated community in Penticton and not read into the record at the trial that appeared to be written by Wiens to Kalmring spoke of financial issues, Crown counsel Colin Forsyth suggested to the jury that this was the motive behind the shooting and that Wiens had placed the knife into Kalmring’s hand after he shot her.
Wiens has spent the past 18 months in protective custody while awaiting trial.
This keeps him behind bars for all but about two hours a day. He will not be able to apply for parole for 13 years.
“His freedom is over. I don’t care if my sisters and I are in our 80s and 90s when those parole hearings come up, we will be at every single one to make sure the monster doesn’t get out,” said Irwin. “This doesn’t bring back Lynn but he is paying for what he has done”
Irwin said she and her sisters had victim impact statements prepared to read in court which had a heavy presence of sheriffs on hand Wednesday, but the justice never asked them to speak.
When offered her chance to share with the Western News, Irwin instead deferred to one of the last emails Kalmring sent out en masse to the family. It was dated Jan. 1, 2011.
“She said what a strong family we were and how some may call us not normal, but to her we are and we always go through trials and tribulations. Sometimes we laugh when we want to cry and we seem to go through all these hardships and come out the other end as a strong family.
“Happiness and family mean everything to her. She sent out an email every New Year’s Day to show how she felt and her resolution. That year it was for there to be happiness and peace,” said Irwin.
The family is now getting ready to launch a civil lawsuit against Wiens, who shared the townhouse in Penticton with Kalmring and another property in Arizona.
Since she was murdered the family has not had access to either of the properties to recover many of Kalmring’s personal effects. Irwin said the past two years have been especially difficult for Kalmring’s two children, one of whom lives in Penticton and feared running into him when he initially was released on bail.
He later was arrested and charged with a breach of conditions, his trial for that is still pending.