A Los Angeles County judge has ordered former Holmes Beach resident David Viens, 48, to stand trial for second degree murder after hearing testimony in a preliminary hearing April 11 in which several witnesses said Viens admitted to them he killed his wife, Dawn Viens.
Viens, 48, a former Holmes Beach resident who along with his wife owned the Beach City Market on Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach, killed his wife in October 2009 by taping her mouth shut, Viens’ girlfriend said in the Los Angeles County courtroom last week.
The girlfriend, Kathy Galvan, told the court she became involved with Viens in 2009 after he told her Dawn had left him and was not coming back.
Viens’ daughter from a previous marriage, Jacqueline Viens, testified in court her father also told her Dawn had left him and returned to Florida. She said he made her send text messages to Dawn’s friends stating “This is Dawn. I’m OK.”
One night after both had been drinking vodka, Jacqueline Viens said her father broke down and told her he had taped Dawn’s mouth shut and tied her up one night because she wanted to talk, while he was trying to sleep.
“He said when he woke up, Dawn was dead. He was very upset.”
But Viens did not reveal what he had done with the body, Jacqueline Viens said.
David and Dawn had operated the Thyme Contemporary Cafe in Lomita, Calif., at the time of her disappearance.
Viens original story to police in 2009 was that Dawn had left him. After he was arrested in 2012, he admitted killing his wife to police, but has claimed it was an accident and he was drunk at the time.
He told police he fell asleep drunk one night after taping her mouth shut when she refused to be quiet. When he woke up, she had apparently vomited, but was unable to breath, he told investigators.
Viens was not arrested during initial interviews with police in 2009 when he said his wife had left him, but two years later, after a newspaper reported he was the prime suspect in the case.
Viens then attempted suicide by jumping off a 100-foot-high cliff following a high-speed chase by police looking to arrest him for the murder. Viens later claimed he became distraught after reading the report that identified him as a suspect, Galvan said.
He survived the fall and is now confined to a wheelchair.
While he was in the hospital recovering from the suicide attempt, prosecutors said he admitted killing his wife, but said it was an accident.
Viens has declined to tell police what he did with the body. His attorney, Fred McCurry, had argued for a charge of manslaughter, but the request was denied by Judge Maria Villa de la Longoria.
The couple owned a home in Holmes Beach and operated the Beach City Market in Bradenton Beach from 2002-2005.
In January 2005, police raided the Viens home and arrested David Viens on suspicion of possession of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana within 1,000 feet of (Anna Maria Elementary) school, possession of opium, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm.
His wife was not charged in that case, saying at the time her husband was just the “middle man” in a nationwide drug smuggling operation.
On April 25, 2005, the Florida state’s attorney dropped all charges against Viens in exchange for his cooperation in giving evidence against others involved in the smuggling and sales operation.
No trial date was set after de la Longoria issued her ruling.