A Los Angeles chef who told detectives he cooked his wife's dead body for four days – but insisted he didn't intend to kill her – was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder.
David Viens has given different accounts as to how he disposed of his wife's 105-lb. body, including throwing her in a Dumpster. Dawn Viens, 39, disappeared almost three years ago and her body was never found.
David Viens, 49, told his daughter Jacqueline that he and her stepmother Dawn were arguing one night when he duct-taped her mouth, bound her hands and feet and fell asleep, Jacqueline testified. When he woke up, he allegedly said, she was dead.
Although David and Dawn sometimes argued, "they seemed like they loved each other," Jacqueline Viens testified for the defense.
After discovering his wife's dead body, Viens "panicked because he did not expect to wake up and find her dead," defense attorney Fred McCurry told the jury.
Police used a ruse to capture Viens. After he read a story planted in a local newspaper saying police found his wife's blood in their home, Viens told his new girlfriend that he had killed his wife, then drove to Rancho Palos Verdes and dove off of an 80-foot cliff, McCurry told a jury.
Viens survived with multiple injuries and attended his trial in a wheelchair.
Once in custody, Viens told detectives he placed Dawn's body in a 55-gallon drum filled with water in his restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Café, and left her to cook for four days. A recording of the confession was played for the jury.
Viens faces 15 years to life in state prison.