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Chef who admitted slow-cooking wife's body convicted of murder

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A California chef who admitted cooking his wife's remains to destroy evidence was found guilty Thursday of second-degree murder in a trial that included an audio recording of the man explaining the four-day cooking process to deputies.

Deliberations by the jury of six men and six women spanned three days before they reached their verdict Thursday morning, finding David Viens, 49, guilty of killing 39-year-old Dawn Viens. The victim's sister sobbed as the verdict was read.

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The second-degree murder verdict indicates jurors did not believe the murder was premeditated or planned in advance.

Defense attorneys argued that Viens did not intend to kill his wife. Prosecutors claimed the death of Viens' wife "was no accident."

Dawn Viens disappeared in 2009. In an audio recording of an interview played in court last week, Viens -- a former chef at the Thyme Contemporary Cafe in Lomita -- described to deputies what he did with his wife's remains.

Document: David Viens' interview with deputies
Related: California chef admitted slow-cooking wife's body

"I took some, some things like weights that we use and I put them on the top of her body, and I just slowly cooked it and I ended up cooking her for four days," Viens said on tape.

Viens told authorities he argued with his wife, then restrained her with duct tape. Viens told investigators that he found his wife dead the morning after the argument.

Viens had jumped off a Rancho Palos Verdes oceanside cliff in 2011 after he learned he was under suspicion in the 2009 death. After being hospitalized in what police said was a suicide attempt, Viens implicated himself in the killing, police said at the time. 

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After Viens' arrest, authorities dug underground at the Pacific Coast Highway restaurant, looking for Dawn Viens' remains, which were never found.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 27. Viens faces 15 years to life in prison.

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