By TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH
A Lomita restaurateur who told sheriff’s detectives he had bound his wife with duct tape, panicked when he awoke to find her dead and “cooked” her body for four days to get rid of her remains was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison.
David Robert Viens, 49, was convicted Sept. 27 of second-degree murder for the October 2009 slaying of his wife, Dawn.
Viens attended his court proceedings in a wheelchair as a result of injuries suffered when he jumped 80 feet down Inspiration Point in Rancho Palos Verdes on Feb. 23, 2011, after a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy tried to stop his vehicle and Viens’ girlfriend tried to stop him from plunging from the oceanfront cliff by grabbing his clothes.
Jurors heard tape-recorded interviews in which Viens told sheriff’s detectives in March 2011 that “for some reason I just got violent” and that he bound his wife’s mouth, hands and feet with duct tape.
He said he had taped her up “probably twice” on other occasions because he “didn’t want her driving around wasted, whacked out on coke and drinking.”
Viens, who ran the now-shuttered Thyme Contemporary Cafe owned by his mother, told investigators he woke up four hours later and panicked once he discovered that she was dead.
“I cooked her four days. I let her cool, I strained it out as I, as I was in there, O.K.,” he told sheriff’s detectives, noting that he dumped the remains in the trash.
In court today, Viens gave a 45-minute argument asking that he be granted a new trial.
He denied cooking his wife and said he didn’t remember talking to detectives, noting he had just come out of lengthy surgery.
Viens insisted he loved his wife.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin denied the request for a new trial, saying there was “substantial, direct and circumstantial evidence that supports the jury’s findings.”
About two months after Viens was convicted, Rubin agreed to allow Viens to act as his own attorney after he filed a motion seeking to relieve attorney Fred McCurry, who represented him during the trial.
It was Viens’ second request to act as his own attorney.
He lost a last-minute bid Sept. 20 to represent himself during the last day of testimony in his trial, with Viens telling the judge then that there was a difference in trial tactics.
The judge noted during the Sept. 20 hearing that Viens was making the request “almost at the very end” of trial and that the defendant would not be immediately ready to proceed on his own with the trial if McCurry left the case.
Jurors deliberated for about five hours before finding Viens guilty of killing his wife, whose remains were never found.