It’s been years, and she still can’t say his name.
That’s at least in part because despite being found guilty in the court of law for murder, Keith Wiens still doesn’t appear to have accepted responsibility for killing his then-common law spouse Lynn Kalmring.
In fact, Wiens has been fighting Kalmring’s family in a civil suit for some properties owned by the former couple — valued at about $500,000. Her sister, Donna Irwin, said the family was initially prepared to settle for a 50-50 split.
“I can’t even say his name out loud; I still refer to him as the animal,” said Irwin. “When I have to say his name out loud, it makes me get goose bumps everywhere. He’s just such an arrogant, bad dude.”
Wiens was convicted of second-degree murder, after he shot Kalmring in the face just over seven years ago in their Penticton home. From the beginning, Wiens has claimed self-defence, but in trial Crown evidence pointed to him planting a knife on Kalmring after her death. An appeal favoured the original decision.
The anniversary of Kalmring’s murder passed less than two weeks ago, on Aug. 16, but six years hasn’t made Kalmring’s sudden death any easier, especially as family members feel they have been revictimized throughout the process toward justice.
“It’s been six years this August, and it just keeps firing it back up every time this stuff comes up,” Kalmring’s daughter Brandy Cummings said. “Of course, every time it comes up, it’s like refreshing, opening up that wound again.”
Kalmring’s estate, executed by Irwin, launched a lawsuit on Dec. 22, 2011 against Wiens for general and special damages, among other reliefs for the pain caused by the loss of their family member.
“As a result of the defendant’s wrongful act in murdering the deceased, the dependents and each of them have suffered and will continue to suffer damages,” the lawsuit reads.
“In particular, each have suffered, and will continue to suffer loss of services, loss of support; loss of love, guidance and affection; loss of care and loss of inheritance.”
Among the damages sought, Irwin said the family was seeking about half of the value of a property shared by Kalmring and Wiens, while the other half would go to Wiens.
“He’s just basically saying, ‘No. She’s getting nothing, the estate’s getting nothing,’” Irwin said.
As the fight continues, Irwin said Wiens is self-representing in the case, and is fighting to take Irwin and the estate into a courtroom where the pair would go face-to-face.
“So he can interrogate me and my family as to why we think the estate should get any money,” Irwin said. “We’re going to get in front of a judge, and hopefully a judge can either set something up where, either the judge is going to make a decision, or (Wiens) is going to have to get a lawyer.”
In a potential positive for the family, Irwin and Cummings said they don’t believe Wiens’ behaviour in the civil case will reflect well on him as he heads to a parole application after 13 years in prison — nine years from this past July.
But after watching the courts allow the civil case to drag on for five years and counting, costing the family nearly $50,000 in legal fees, Cummings said she’s having a hard time keeping faith in the justice system.
“Right from the beginning, that’s what we were trying to fight for, is the victims should have a little more rights than they do,” Cummings said. “We’re trying to be a voice for my mom, and it’s proving a lot harder than I ever expected.”
The family brought their case to Dan Albas, then the member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla which represented the family, who took it to Parliament, but Irwin said she hasn’t seen any changes coming down the pike.
“The public certainly doesn’t realize what victims go through. You hear about the stories on the news and it’s sensationalized, and all the gory details of it all,” Irwin said.
“Everybody was interested then, but nobody’s interested now. Nobody really knows what happens after it’s all said and done, so I want to make sure that the public is aware.”
The Western News has reached out to the family’s lawyers, but have not received comment as of publication.