This is the first in a series, ‘Justice for Lynn,’ about the late Lynn Kalmring and her family’s journey following the Penticton woman’s 2011 shooting death and the recent news her killer, Keith Gregory Wiens, has been granted escorted temporary absence from prison — as early as next week. Part two will appear in Friday’s edition of the Western News.
Shelley Pertelson picked up her phone just before midnight in August 2011 to hear her sister Lynn Kalmring sobbing on the other end of the line.
Not knowing who else to turn to, Kalmring, 55, had called Pertelson’s Salmon Arm home following a fight with `her common-law spouse, Keith Gregory Wiens.
|When she was alive Lynn Kalmring always liked to have a furry friend around to keep her company. (Family photo)
Less than 20 minutes later Kalmring lay dead in the bedroom of their South Main Street residence from a single bullet to the face from a nine-millimetre pistol at the hands of Wiens.
“Lynn said that animal (Wiens) had told her to get off her ass and ‘get a f——ing job,’” Pertelson recalled of their conversation that night, something that still replays over and over in her mind to this day. “I told Lynn to go into the spare room and I would call her in the morning…and that I loved her and everything would be alright.
“I did call her in the morning and left a message on the answering machine and I tried her cell, no answer.”
Later that day she received word from victims services in Penticton saying her sister was dead.
Since then the family has endured years of criminal and civil court cases, they’ve watched as Wiens was moved from maximum to minimum security prison after three years and now, what they say is the latest slap in the face, learning a few weeks ago the man convicted of Kalmring’s second-degree murder has been granted escorted temporary absence (ETA) by the Parole Board of Canada (PBC).
An added insult according to the victim’s relatives is they only learned about the board decision through mainstream and social media.
Relatives say they have since been contacted by the PBC which has “profusely apologized” for the error saying it would “never, never happen again.”
Meanwhile, the PBC decision comes in spite of what the board itself says are concerns associated with Wiens’ potential problems in relationships with women.
“Your assessed risk is in the low range for general and violent recidivism while your risk for intimate partner violence is in the high range … and has not been adequately addressed,” the PBC report reads.
That statement was based on a psychological assessment Wiens was given prior to the board decision which also imposed a condition that “all intimate sexual and non-sexual relationships and friendships with females,” be reported to his parole supervisor.
|Lynn Kalmring with her granddaughter Alyssa, her son Joe’s daughter, one of the grandchildren she adored. (Family photo)|
There are also concerns by the PBC that Wiens has not fully taken responsibility for his actions that August night, the board report saying: “You continue to deny that the offence was intentional and despite your appeal (of the conviction) not being successful you continue to pursue other avenues to deal with your perception of injustice.”
During the trial Wiens claimed the shooting was in self-defence, but the court found he placed a knife in Kalmring’s lifeless hand to make it appear she attacked him.
“It’s like having a scab that’s just starting to heal and then he (Wiens) comes along and it just gets ripped off again,” said another of Kalmring’s sisters, Donna Irwin of Vancouver.
Pertelson agreed: “Just when you start thinking that you’re healing then you get hit with what we all got hit with. It just puts you right back there, right back to the same day when Lynn died.”
Both sisters are certain he will re-offend, Irwin fearing it could be sooner than later.
“Who’s to say he won’t escape? If he’s not with an armed guard what’s to stop him?” she asked. “That scares me, if he does get out he will murder or hurt another woman, 100 per cent, it could be me, it could be anybody’s mother, daughter, sister.”
Wiens has been granted ETA to do community work for up to eight hours at a time to a maximum of 40 hours a month.
While out, restraints will not be used and he will be under the supervision of either a Correctional Services Canada staff member in a government vehicle or “a trained volunteer in a private vehicle.”
Irwin has filed a complaint with the PBC, becoming especially upset after learning the two board members ruling in favour of the ETA were women.
“I filled out the form and said ‘how can you live with yourselves?’” said Irwin.
|Lynn Kalmring with her pet Chihuahua Angel who died short time after her master was murdered. (Family photo)
“Look what he’s accomplished in less six years into a life sentence (no parole for 13 years). He’s got his freedom, he got moved from maximum to minimum, he got moved close to his family. He took all of that away from us that night he decided to put a bullet in Lynn’s face.
“I’m not going to give up. He picked the wrong family to mess with because we’re not going away, it’s an emotional journey that’s just never-ending. It’s all a game, just saying what he has to say to get what he needs. I’m just hoping that he will die in there.”
Kalmring’s daughter Brandy Cummings, 40, who lives in Penticton with her husband and daughter, was also outraged at learning the news from her friends that her mom’s killer is being granted leave.
“I’m not surprised by his (Wiens) actions but I am surprised by the parole board’s actions,” said Cummings. “Until he’s dead I don’t think I’m going to have peace. I know that sounds harsh but that’s reality for me and that’s pretty unfortunate.
“I don’t get to get to visit my mom, I don’t get to see her again and I miss her every day and I cry all the time. I will not accept it, I accept that she’s gone but I don’t accept what he has done, I can’t.”
Family members continue to write to PBC about their concerns, highlighting the many instances of violence they witnessed or heard of Wiens’ behaviour, including from his previous wives who were called to testify during his trial.
“It’s sickening, senseless and I’m disgusted,” said Irwin.
“This guy is a killer, a convicted murderer and he seems to have all kinds of rights and we don’t have any.
“What’s the point of having a justice system? The justice system in Canada is broken.”
This is an excerpt from a poem Kalmring had written earlier to the man who would eventually take her life:
“Keith, I want you to know what’s in my heart,
For it no longer wants to be lonely and dark,
I want to be there when you need me and accept you for who you are,
As I would expect you to be for me…not distant and far.
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