David Viens: Jury continues deliberations in Calif. chef's murder trial

David Viens
Los Angeles County Sheriffâ??s Department
David Viens
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

(CBS) LOS ANGELES - A California jury will continue deliberations Thursday morning in the case of David Viens, a Los Angeles-area chef accused of killing his wife and then cooking her body in boiling water for four days, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Pictures: Calif. chef accused of cooking his wife's corpse

The newspaper reported that the jury failed to reach a verdict Wednesday on whether Viens is guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter. After jurors asked for the definition of second-degree murder, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin referred them to the jury instructions.

Viens, 49, is accused of killing his wife, Dawn, who vanished in October 2009. In 2011, he leaped off an 80-foot seaside cliff in Rancho Palos Verdes after learning that he was a suspect in his wife's disappearance, whose body was never found. His injuries have him attending his trial in a wheelchair.

While hospitalized, Viens gave two interviews to investigators which were later played for the jury. In one interview, he told investigators that he stuffed his wife's body in a 55-gallon drum of boiling water and kept it submerged over four days before dumping some of the remains in a grease pit at his restaurant in Lomita and putting the rest in trash.

During the trial, defense attorney Fred McCurry said the evidence didn't support a first-degree murder conviction against his client, which requires proof of premeditation.

McCurry described Dawn Viens' death as an accident, which mirrors the account David Viens allegedly gave to his daughter and ex-girlfriend. According to a taped interview, Viens told investigators he duct-taped his wife's mouth, bound her hands and feet and fell asleep after suspecting she was stealing from his restaurant. He said she was dead when he woke up.

His attorney said instead of boiling her body, Viens threw it in the dumpster at his restaurant.

Complete coverage of David Viens on Crimesider