Family of Lynn Kalmring run their fingers across tattoos of dragonflies they got in her memory, as they wait outside the Kelowna courthouse on Thursday as the trial ramps up for the man accused of the Penticton woman’s murder.
“We have our dragonflies in her memory because she loved them. We got them after she died and that is really all we have left, just our memories of her,” said Donna Irwin, Kalmring’s sister.
For a year and half they have been waiting for this day, albeit one that they said traumatizes the family all over again, but something they need to see through to fight for justice for Kalmring. Irwin said it is important that they sit through the details, some of which she believes will be new information to them. Another of Kalmring’s sisters, Maggie Leslie, agreed the next few weeks will be difficult having to relive the death of Kalmring over again, especially when the fate of Keith Wiens, the man accused of their sister’s murder, rests with a jury
“When you have got 12 strangers deciding the outcome of this case and they don’t know who we are, they don’t know anything about us, they didn’t know our sister, they are just going to be hearing the evidence as presented to them and be instructed how to use that evidence in their verdict,” said Leslie. “We just hope they get it right.”
Crown counsel Colin Forsyth said in his opening statement he is expecting to call 25 people including civilians, RCMP officers and experts to the stand.
Forsyth said it was between 12:01 and 12:20 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2011 that Wiens used a 9-mm handgun to shoot Kalmring in the face at their shared residence in the gated community of Sandbridge in Penticton. The Crown told the jury evidence will be heard that the muzzle of the pistol was less than 30 inches from Kalmring’s face when it discharged, and she was found by Mounties lying on her back dead in the bedroom with her left hand out and a knife in it.
“I anticipate the issue of whether it was in her hand when she was fatally shot will be up to you,” Forsyth said to the jury.
The Crown said he would be calling an RCMP officer who took photographs of the crime scene and exhibits to give her observations. “I expect her to tell you that the knife came out of Kalmring’s hand without any difficulty,” he added.
Forsyth said officers will testify that among the exhibits they seized in the home were a number of documents found on the kitchen island and $2,005 U.S. with a ring placed on top. The 911 call placed by Wiens will also be heard by the jury. In it, Forsyth said Wiens can be heard saying that he shot his wife, it was a “big huge mistake” and “something got out of hand here tonight.”
The first witness called to testify, Shelly Pertelson, was Kalmring’s sister and the last person besides Wiens to speak with her before she died. Kalmring had telephoned Pertelson at her home in Salmon Arm about 20 minutes prior to Wiens making the 911 call.
Pertelson said Kalmring and Wiens had joined her husband and some friends for a camping trip in Grindrod just days earlier. She noticed some unusual behaviour from Wiens when they pulled up to the site, and she said he seemed “almost angry” at Kalmring.
Perterlson said she discussed this with her sister and found out there was some disagreement about financial matters and the fact Kalmring, an LPN, had not been working full time.
She said Wiens wanted to pay off the mortgage and bills so they could live at their Arizona property six months out of the year, and the retired police officer who had been driving a school bus was considering going to Grande Prairie to make some money in the trucking industry. Despite being asked to stay an extra day, Pertelson said Wiens and Kalmring left on Aug. 14. She recalled Wiens saying he needed to go home because he had some decisions to make about what he was going to do. She said Kalmring came around giving her usual hugs goodbye.
“Mr. Wiens went around hugging people, which was really unusual for him. When he left we talked about how out of character for him that was because he had never done that before,” said Pertelson.
The trial is expected to last 15 days.