A former Lomita restaurant owner -- who told sheriff's detectives that he bound his wife with duct tape, panicked after he awoke to find her dead and boiled her body for four days to get rid of her remains -- told a judge today that he will not testify in his own defense in his murder trial.
After being informed outside the jury's presence by defense attorney Fred McCurry that his client had decided not to testify, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rand Rubin told David Robert Viens that "ultimately the decision is yours" and asked the 49-year-old chef directly if he had decided against testifying.
"That is correct," said Viens, who is charged with murder in the October 2009 disappearance of his 39-year-old wife, Dawn, whose body has not been found.
A day after the prosecution rested its case, Viens' attorney told jurors in his opening statement that "what you should not expect is some type of bombshell" during the defense's portion of the case.
He said jurors will hear from a doctor about Ambien -- the sleep-aid medication Viens told sheriff's detectives that he took before taping his wife's mouth and binding her arms and legs -- and the prescription drug's side effects.
During one of his interviews with sheriff's detectives, Viens said he had taken Ambien, told his wife to "just leave me alone" after she began calling him "all kinds of means names and stuff" and then wrapped her hands and feet up and put clear tape over her mouth. He said he awoke four hours later to find her dead.
At the start of the defense's case, chef Charlie Negrete testified that he did not recall hearing Viens say just before his wife disappeared that he was going to "kill that bitch" or say anything about her stealing money from Thyme Contemporary Cafe, the restaurant they owned.
Prosecution witness Richert Todd Stagnitto testified last week that Viens had made the threat while flipping through receipts for the business as they sat on Oct. 18, 2009, with another man who was interviewing for a chef's position at the restaurant.
On Tuesday, jurors heard Viens' March 15, 2011, tape-recorded interview with Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives about three weeks after he jumped 80 feet down a Rancho Palos Verdes cliff.
While hospitalized in a jail ward for injuries sustained from his cliffside jump, Viens told the sheriff's detectives that he boiled the water and "cooked her for four days" and then let her cool before straining it out and dumping the remains in a garbage bag that "probably weighed seven or eight pounds in grease."
Just after complaining of "excruciating pain" and being told by a nurse that she had his pain medications, Viens told investigators he believed there was one bag of body parts remaining.
"I'm confused now, and -- because of these dreams and stuff I've had. I think the skull is there ... in my mother's attic," Viens said.
He told investigators that he had "buried everything else in like the garbage bags very carefully ... in my dumpster mixed in ... strategically placed in with debris and other crap," and that "you can put me on a polygraph test any day of the week and I'll pass that."
Investigators searched the attic at the Torrance home of Viens' mother, but did not find any remains, Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Richard Garcia testified.