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US chef guilty of murder, cooked remains of dead wife

LOS ANGELES -- A U.S. chef was convicted of second degree murder Thursday after he admitted to slow-cooking his wife's body for four days to get rid of the evidence, while claiming she had died accidentally.

During a grisly six-day trial David Viens, 49, told police he had bound his 39-year-old wife Dawn with duct tape to stop her from escaping, and then went to sleep. He awoke four hours later to find her dead, and panicked.

He put her body in a large drum and boiled it. “I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days,” he said in an interview with detectives played during the trial.

“I cooked her (for) four days. I let her cool, I strained it out” and then threw the remains in the trash, he said. Her body was never found after she disappeared in October 2009.

He is due to be sentenced on Nov. 27, and faces anything from 15 years to life in prison.

The former restaurant owner from Lomita, south of Los Angeles, had bound her similarly probably twice before, because he “didn't want her driving around wasted, whacked out on coke and drinking,” he said.

Prosecutor Deborah Brazil had called for Viens to be convicted of first degree murder, arguing that his wife's death “was no accident.”

Dawn “likely met her death in a much more violent fashion” — such as being choked — than her husband admitted, Brazil said.

“That is why the defendant needed the four days to completely destroy and dispose of Dawn Viens's body.”

Viens also told detectives he believed one bag of body parts remained, and that he believed the skull was in his mother's attic. Detectives searched the attic but found nothing.

The six-man, six-woman jury panel deliberated for five and a half hours before returning their verdict of second degree murder following the trial.

Viens appeared in court in a wheelchair as a result of injuries sustained during an 80-foot (25-meter) jump off a cliff in February 2011, shortly after he told his girlfriend that his wife's death was an accident.

He also told his daughter that his wife had died accidentally.

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