LOS ANGELES (AP) — A chef won't take the stand in his own defense in a trial where he's accused of killing his wife and then cooking her body for four days in boiling water to get rid of the evidence, according to his attorney.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin reminded David Viens that he it was his decision whether to take the stand, regardless of what his attorney may want, according to the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/S6EQOz ).
"I understand that," Viens said.
The 49-year-old has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 39-year-old wife, Dawn, in late 2009. Her body has never been found.
City News Service reports in opening statements, David Viens' defense says he took Ambien before he bound his wife.
Jurors on Tuesday heard a recording played in court of Viens telling sheriff's investigators they couldn't find his wife's body because he cooked it until little was left but her skull.
"I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days," Viens, 49, could be heard saying on the recording.
Viens gave detectives the interview as he lay in a hospital bed in March 2011, after leaping off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes. Authorities say he jumped after learning he was a suspect in her death.
Viens, whose injuries from the leap have him attending his trial in a wheelchair, said in the interview that he stuffed his wife's body in a 55-gallon drum of boiling water and kept it submerged with weights.
He said he mixed what remained after four days with other waste, dumping some of it in a grease pit at his restaurant in Lomita, and putting the rest in the trash.
He said the only significant thing left was his wife's skull, which he stashed in his mother's attic at her home in Torrance. But a search of the house turned up nothing, nor did an excavation of the restaurant.
On the recording played in court, sheriff's Sgt. Richard Garcia asked Viens what happened on Oct. 18, 2009, the night his wife disappeared.
Viens said he had noticed money missing from the restaurant he owned and suspected his wife. When he arrived home that night Viens said his wife got angry with him and he forced her onto the floor where he wrapped her up and put a piece of clear duct tape over her mouth.
He said when he awoke four hours later, his wife was dead.