Jurors hear L.A. chef tell police he dumped wife’s body in trash
This post has been corrected, as noted below.
In March 2011, while holed up in the hospital after leaping off an 80-foot cliff, David Viens spoke to Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators. They wanted to know whether he'd killed his wife, Dawn, who had vanished nearly 18 months earlier.
Sgt. Richard Garcia asked Viens what happened the night of Oct. 18, 2009, the last time anyone had seen his wife.
"For some reason I just got violent," Viens said, according to an interview played for a Los Angeles jury Tuesday.
Viens, who worked as a chef, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, whose body was never found. After Viens learned investigators suspected he had killed her, he jumped off the cliff -- feet first, hands extended over his head -- in Rancho Palos Verdes. That's how he ended up in the hospital, so severely injured that he is attending his murder trial in a wheelchair.
Last week, Viens' daughter and his ex-girlfriend testified that Viens told them he had accidentally killed Dawn Viens. The details they shared closely mirrored what he said in the interview jurors heard.
His voice hoarse and close to inaudible, David Viens said in the interview that he and his wife had ingested cocaine together that October night. He had recently caught her stealing money from him, he told detectives, and he snapped at their apartment.
"And what did you do to her?" Garcia asked.
"Duct tape," Viens replied.
He taped her mouth and restrained her hands and feet, Viens told detectives, something he said he had done that at least twice before to prevent her from "driving around wasted, whacked out on coke, and drinking." Then Viens fell asleep.
The next morning, he said, "I woke up. I panicked."
"Why -– why did you panic?" Garcia asked.
"She was hard," Viens said.
Viens said in the intreview that he then dragged his wife's lifeless body from the living room floor to the closet, stuffed it into a garbage bag and drove it to his Lomita restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Café.
"I put it in the dumpster," he told detectives.
[For the record, 3:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Dawn Viens disappeared five months before David Viens was questioned in March 2011. She disappeared in October 2009.]
--Ashley Powers at Los Angeles County Superior Court
Photo: Dawn and David Viens. Credit: KTLA-TV, Channel 5