David Viens could face 15 years or life in prison for killing his wife, Dawn, and boiling her body for four days before disposing of the remains. Viens appeared in court this week in order to be formally charged following nearly six hours of deliberations by a jury. He was convicted of second-degree murder.
Viens had previously confessed to murdering his wife, Dawn, but allegedly gave two explanations as to why. In the first, he told authorities he had hurt her after simply having a "violent" moment. In the second confession, Viens admitted to binding Dawn's hands and feet and covering her mouth after a night of drug use.
"I cooked her four days; I let her cool. I strained it out," Viens added.
After that time he took whatever was left and mixed it with waste from his restaurant, the Thyme Contemporary Café, before dumping it in a grease pit. Dawn's skull was stowed at Viens' mother's home but has not been found by authorities.
While the prosecution had hoped for a first-degree charge of murder, the jury chose to believe that Viens never truly intended to kill his wife and a night of drug use led to her inadvertent death.
"I woke up. I panicked. She was hard," Viens told officials.
In an interesting twist, once Viens learned he was the prime suspect in his wife's murder, he ran, screaming and jumped off an 80-foot cliff. He was severely injured and remains in a wheelchair. During the taped testimony, jurors heard Viens stop and ask for more pain medication in order to continue working with investigators.
Dawn Viens' family was present for this week's trial and spoke to the L.A. Times when the verdict was read.
"There's no happy ending," her sister Dayna Papin said. "I don't think there are any winners or losers. Two families have suffered tremendously and we will continue to."
Viens will be sentenced in November.