Jurors on Tuesday got their first look at a knife that could play a central role in the Keith Wiens murder trial.
Wiens is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the August 2011 shooting death of Lynn Kalmring at the home the couple shared in Penticton.
The knife was found in Kalmring’s left hand by investigators, and the Crown is expected to argue that Wiens placed the knife after the shooting to make it appear he pulled the trigger in self-defence.
Kalmring’s body was located on the floor of her bedroom with a gunshot wound to her head. A handgun in a holster was found on the bed.
The trial, which opened Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court in Kelowna, continued Tuesday morning with testimony from three Penticton RCMP officers who collected evidence at the shooting scene on Aug. 16, 2011.
Forensic specialist Cpl. France Burke told the court she found no fingerprints on the gun or the knife, nor did she detect any blood on the gun’s barrel or anywhere else in the home, besides the bedroom.
Burke also said she found a bullet casing under a pair of shorts that were on the bedroom floor.
Cpl. Warren Kraft, who assisted Burke at the scene, told the court he first saw Kamlring lying on her back with her head near the bedroom door, and upon closer inspection noticed the knife in her left hand.
He said a fan on the bedroom dresser was turned on and no damage was visible in the room, save for blood stains on the foot of the bed and on the floor and wall near Kalmring’s body.
Kraft also walked the court through a book of photos taken at the scene and of Kalmring’s autopsy. Justice Geoff Barrow warned jurors the pictures would be “likely upsetting” to look at, and told them he would put the court in recess if any of them needed time to collect themselves after viewing the photos.
Const. Darren Durnin, a member of the Penticton RCMP’s general investigation section, was in charge of managing physical evidence at the scene and produced for the court the knife that was found in Kalmring’s hand.
The dark-handled kitchen knife, the steel blade of which Durnin said measured about 30 centimetres, didn’t appear to have any stains on it. Jurors leaned forward in their seats to look at the knife as a sheriff displayed it in front of them.
During his opening statement last Thursday, Crown counsel Colin Forsyth told the seven-woman, five-man jury that evidence presented at the trial would show Wiens shot Kalmring from a distance of less than one metre and that the knife was easily removed from her hand by investigators.
“I anticipate the issue of whether (the knife) was in her hand when she was fatally shot will be up to you,” he said.
Forsyth also said the court would hear the 911 call placed by Wiens to alert police to the shooting, and during which Wiens told a dispatcher he had made “a big, huge mistake,” and, “something got out of hand here tonight.”
Kalmring’s sister, Shelly Pertelson, testified last week that Wiens had been acting strangely in the days before the incident, and that the couple, both in their 50s, had argued about money prior to the shooting.
Wiens, a retired RCMP officer, sat expressionless in the prisoner’s box on Tuesday. He wore a dark suit with a blue shirt and red tie, and had his grey hair and moustache clipped short. He sipped water frequently and spoke just once to one of the two lawyers defending him.
The Crown plans to call 25 witnesses at the trial, which is expected to last 15 days. A lawyer who represented Wiens previously convinced a judge to move the trial to Kelowna, because it was feared that news coverage of the case in Penticton may have tainted the jury pool here.