A judge today agreed today to let a man convicted of killing his wife and disposing of her body by cooking it over four days at his Lomita restaurant to act as his own attorney while he awaits sentencing.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin agreed that David Robert Viens could represent himself after the 49-year-old former owner of the now-closed Thyme Contemporary Cafe filed a motion to fire his attorney, Fred McCurry.
"All you have to do is fire him," Rubin told Viens, who was convicted Sept. 27 of first-degree murder in the October 2009 slaying of his wife, Dawn.
- Complete Coverage: David Viens
"I'd like to do that," Viens said, shaking his attorney's hand before McCurry left the courtroom.
Viens thanked the judge for letting him represent himself, but said he needed more time to prepare for sentencing, at which he is facing a 15-year-to-life prison term Feb. 1.
It was Viens' second request to act as his own attorney.
He lost a last-minute bid Sept. 20 to represent himself on the last day of testimony in his trial, with Viens telling the judge that the two disagreed over trial tactics. The judge noted that the request was made "almost at the very end" of trial, and that Viens would not be ready to pick up where McCurry left off if the lawyer was dismissed.
Jurors deliberated for about five hours before convicting Viens of killing his wife, whose body was never found.
Viens tried to kill himself by jumping off a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff on Feb. 23, 2001, after a sheriff's deputies tried to pull him over, and now comes to court in a wheelchair.
Viens and his wife were cocaine users. He 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."
He 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, OK," he told sheriff's detectives, noting that he dumped the remains in the trash.
At trial, McCurry called into question Viens' confession, which was made from a hospital bed while he was sedated by painkillers.
Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil countered that the defense was asking jurors to believe Viens' account that he had dumped his wife's body in a trash bin and to set aside "the more gruesome explanation that he cooked her for four days."
"The gruesome and horrific details ... came from his mouth and his mouth only," Brazil said.
- Murder Suspect Out of Coma After Jumping off Cliff
- Lomita Man Arrested on Suspicion of Wife's Murder
- Missing Lomita Woman's Body Not Found at Restaurant
- Lomita Man Pleads Not Guilty to Wife's Murder
- Witness: Cliff Jumper Threatened to Kill Wife
- Prosecutor: Cliff Jumper Said He Boiled Wife's Remains
- Cliff Jumper Will Not Testify in His Defense
- Closing Arguments Start in Cliff Jumper's Trial
- Cliff Jumper Who 'Cooked' Wife Guilty of Murder