Chef who told authorities he cooked his wife fires attorney

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 9:22 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — LOS ANGELES—The chef who told authorities that he accidentally killed his wife and cooked her body to dispose of it fired his attorney Tuesday and will represent himself when he is sentenced in February.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin warned David Viens that “there is a danger to representing yourself” and he’d get “no special indulgence” from the court. Viens, who was convicted earlier this year of second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, said he understood.

Viens dismissed his attorney, Fred McCurry, with a soft “thank you, Fred.” He had tried to get rid of McCurry during his trial, a request Rubin denied because it was made too late in the proceedings.

“Thank you for letting me go pro-per. I appreciate that,” said Viens, who appeared in court Tuesday in a wheelchair wearing gray jail garb and glasses that dangled from a string around his neck. The sister and father of his wife, Dawn, looked visibly pained that the proceedings would drag on.

Viens was polite, addressing the judge as “your honor,” and had arrived in court with several handwritten motions, which were not immediately available to reporters. Rubin gave him a January deadline to file any other requests and allotted him $60 to make phone calls from jail before his Feb. 1 sentencing.

Dawn Viens was 39 when she vanished in October 2009. After her husband learned in February 2011 that investigators suspected he’d played a role in her disappearance, he leaped off an 80-foot cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes.

From his hospital bed, David Viens described to sheriff’s investigators why authorities never found his wife’s body. He said he packed it into a large drum of boiling water, held it down with weights and simmered it over four days. Then, he said, he poured much of what remained into the grease pit at his Lomita restaurant, Thyme Contemporary Cafe.

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