Jurors are expected to resume deliberations Wednesday morning in the murder trial of a chef who told authorities he cooked his wife's dead body to dispose of it.
The jury began deliberations Tuesday afternoon but did not reach a verdict after about two hours.
Dawn Viens was 39 when she disappeared in October 2009. Her body has never been found, but in an interview last year with Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators, her husband, David Viens, gave a grisly explanation as to why.
David Viens said he packed her body into a large drum and boiled it in water over four days, according to the interview played for jurors. He said he poured much of what remained into the grease trap of his Lomita restaurant and threw other remains in the trash, he said. In the weeks that followed, Viens tried to cover his tracks with a string of lies and fake text messages, prosecutors said.
"He tried to manipulate everyone who asked, 'Where's Dawn?'" Deputy District Atty. Deborah Brazil told the jury. "Don't let him manipulate you as well."
Defense attorney Fred McCurry never challenged the premise that Dawn Viens was dead, nor did he suggest that she was slain by someone other than her husband. But he said the evidence didn't support the first-degree murder conviction the prosecution was seeking, which requires proof of premeditation."Dawn Viens died as an unintentional result of David Viens' actions," McCurry said. "That's not murder."
In the defense's telling, which mirrors the account David Viens gave to his daughter, Viens duct-taped his wife's mouth, bound her hands and feet and fell asleep. When he woke up, she was dead. Convinced that no one would believe his wife's lifeless body was the result of a mishap, Viens tossed it in a dumpster at his restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Cafe.