Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

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Police bungled case against Pembroke dentist, lawyers allege

Postby Thomas » Mon May 11, 2015 1:22 am

A Pembroke dentist on trial for impaired driving causing death shouldn’t be found guilty of anything after biased and incompetent provincial police so badly bungled the case that none of their work can be safely relied upon, defence lawyers argue in their closing submissions to the long-running case of Dr. Christy Natsis.

But Crown prosecutors are countering that the observations of multiple witnesses, plus other evidence, should be enough to secure a conviction for impaired and dangerous driving causing death in the crash that killed Bryan Casey on March 31, 2011.

The Crown and defence arguments are contained in written submissions now being considered by a judge.

The newly released arguments lay out the final positions of both sides in the high-profile case, which has now entered its third year and appears to be nearing a conclusion, with the judge expected to deliver a verdict on May 29.

Natsis has pleaded not guilty to charges of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death. The Crown concedes a charge of driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit causing death should be dismissed.

The Crown says witnesses watched a tipsy Natsis back her SUV into a car after leaving a Kanata bar and spotted a car similar to hers speed and swerve down the highway in the 24 minutes leading up to the deadly head-on crash on Highway 17 near Arnprior.

Prosecutors aren’t able to rely on readings that showed Natsis had a blood-alcohol level nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit to drive because police violated her charter rights in order to obtain them.

However, the prosecution argues evidence collected during the much-criticized police investigation of the crash scene — as well as electronic data from both vehicles that showed Natsis never slowed and that Casey appeared to try to avoid the crash — further bolsters the Crown’s case.

According to Natsis’s team of defence lawyers, the problems with the Crown case run so deep that a not-guilty verdict is the only reasonable conclusion.

In their 619-page written submission, which meticulously deconstructs every single aspect of the Crown’s case, lawyers Michael Edelson, Vince Clifford and Solomon Friedman argue that finding Natsis guilty of so much as a simple impaired driving charge — much less of causing Casey’s death — would be a mistake.

The defence admits for the first time that it was Natsis who was driving and hit a car in the parking lot of the Crazy Horse Saloon. Yet they maintain the Crown hasn’t proven she was impaired or caused the crash with Casey, who himself had a blood-alcohol level 1 1/2 times the legal limit to drive.

“There is no eyewitness in this trial who can tell us whether one driver or the other ’caused’ the accident,” the defence argues.

The defence is particularly harsh when it comes to the work of the Ontario Provincial Police investigators tasked with determining what happened in the moments leading up to the collision. The lawyers accuse the lead investigator, Const. Ryan Besner, of leaving out or not investigating key details that didn’t fit his conclusion that Natsis was to blame for the crash.

The defence also blasts the work of OPP collision investigators Shawn Kelly and Jeff Hewitt. The Crown had attempted to have Kelly declared an expert witness during the trial; the judge accepted some of his credentials, but also found he was biased and withheld evidence favourable to Natsis.

“No amount of window-dressing and testimonial ‘do overs’ can cover up one simple, glaring fault in the Crown’s case — P.C. Kelly has been revealed as the biased, incompetent, incredible and unreliable investigator that he truly is,” the defence allege.

The defence says Hewitt — whom it describes as a “White Knight” intended to save the case from the “abyss” created by Kelly’s testimony — demonstrated a lack of comprehension of the detailed technical matters at issue and a disregard for cautionary warnings and the scientific limitations of the methods he used to reach conclusions about what happened.

But Crown prosecutors John Ramsay and Julian Daller argue in their submissions — which totalled 259 pages — that there are multiple ways in which the judge can reach the conclusion Natsis is guilty.

Prosecutors argue one witness described a woman fitting Natsis’s description was “out of it” as she left the Crazy Horse while another said she was extremely intoxicated and stumbling before backing into a parked car. A server at the Kanata bar testified Natsis drank at least one 8 oz. glass of wine and possibly some of a second. Prosecutors said other drivers on the highway described seeing an SUV straddle the fog line, cross the centre line and nearly hit a concrete wall. At the crash scene, Natsis asked a friend for a piece of gum and smelled of alcohol, prosecutors alleged.

The defence argued the witness evidence couldn’t be trusted because it was rife with contradictions and inconsistencies.

The Crown was incredulous.

“How could a dozen witnesses, only three of which are OPP officers, somehow be so motivated against a perfect stranger that they would be prepared to commit perjury and fabricate evidence about her impaired and dangerous operation of her motor vehicle?” the Crown asks.

The prosecution argues that evidence from the scene showed the crash occurred in Casey’s lane. Further, electronic data gathered from both vehicles suggests Natsis couldn’t maintain a steady speed and didn’t take her foot off the gas pedal before the crash, while Casey slowed and moved to the right. The data was collected from the power control module in Natsis’s Ford Expedition and the airbag control module in Casey’s Dodge truck.

But a large portion of the Ford’s data was corrupted and lost, the defence argues. It was also done by engineers who had never performed the task before.

“Our case would be the first case of a 2010 Ford Expedition PCM (power control module) download in automotive history,” the defence notes.

“The electronic data is not a substitute for an adequate technical collision investigation and a truly competent accident reconstruction,” the defence added later.

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Christy Natsis found guilty in drunk driving causing death t

Postby Thomas » Sat May 30, 2015 4:23 am

Victim's family 'will never forget pain' caused by Pembroke dentist

Despite 55 intense trial days, Charter challenges and accusations of police bungling, Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis was convicted of causing the death of Bryan Casey.

Judge Neil Kozloff convicted her Friday of impaired driving and dangerous driving, both causing death, in the fatal March 31, 2011 crash.

In a meticulous decision that took over three hours to read, Kozloff found he had no doubt that Natsis was guilty as charged.

Crown prosecutors John Ramsay and Julian Daller accepted congratulations from emotional members of Casey’s family after Kozloff gave his decision.

“I will never forget the look on our children’s faces when I told them what happened,” Casey’s widow, LeeEllen Carroll, told reporters outside the court.

“I will never forget the pain in their eyes and in their hearts.”

Casey’s father, Gus Casey, spoke softly but gratefully of the doctors and paramedics “who made such an effort to save him.”

The Crazy Horse bar in Kanata was the opening act of this tragedy.

That’s where Natsis was spotted sipping Chardonnay — two glasses — before tottering off to her car at 7:30 p.m.

Witnesses said she was stumbling before getting into her black Ford Expedition — and that she struck another car in the parking lot before peeling away.

Once on Hwy. 17, her speeding SUV drew more stares from drivers, who saw her drifting erratically on the shoulder while buzzing along at speeds approaching 130 km/h.

Near Arnprior, she drifted into eastbound traffic and hit Casey’s truck head-on. She escaped unscathed but Casey was fatally wounded.

“He was a man who was dying in front of our eyes,” a doctor recalled.

Natsis, meanwhile, asked for gum when help approached, and she reeked of booze, the court heard.

OPP officers arrested her and took her to hospital.

A breath test showed she had 2-1/2 times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood stream, but cops blundered when they cut short a conversation with her lawyer, leading Kozloff to find her rights to counsel had been violated.

He threw out the readings.

Defence lawyer Michael Edelson and his high-powered team also spent hours grilling police collisions investigators over their errors.

These — coupled with the fact that Casey himself was driving with a blood-alcohol level well over the limit — suggested Natsis could well have been acquitted.

While Kozloff found the cops to be less than exemplary, the observations of the civilian witnesses and physical evidence at the crash scene took him over the threshold of reasonable doubt.

Indeed, evidence recovered from Casey’s truck showed he’d hit the brakes and tried to swerve when Natsis came barrelling into him, in a “tragically unsuccessful attempt to avoid a collision,” Kozloff said.

Computers on Natsis’s SUV revealed no such actions on her part.

Natsis returns to court June 10 to set a date for a sentencing hearing, which is likely at least three months away.

It may take place in Pembroke.

She remains free on bail.

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HOW WE GOT HERE:

March 31, 2011: Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis drinks two glasses of Chardonnay at Kanata's Crazy Horse bar with a male friend. They share two pounds of wings and leave. Witnesses say Natsis is unsteady on her feet and backs into a car in the parking lot before driving away in her SUV.

On Hwy. 17 en route to Pembroke, other drivers see her Ford Expedition swerving all over the road. She drives into oncoming traffic and strikes 50-year-old Bryan Casey's eastbound truck head-on, leaving him mortally wounded. Natsis escapes injury but is arrested and blows 2-1/2 times the legal limit.

Nov. 13, 2012: Natsis, charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and driving with a blood-alcohol level over the limit causing death, begins what will be a massively-long trial.

March 18, 2013: Citing an "egregious" Charter violation, Judge Neil Kozloff throws out breathalyser readings showing that Natsis's blood-alcohol levels were at about 200 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood three hours after the crash. The legal limit is 80 mg. Kozloff says OPP Const. Ryan Besner delivered a "death blow" to Natsis's right to counsel when he cut short a conversation with her lawyer. It's also fatal to the charge of driving with a blood-alcohol level over the limit causing death.

May 29, 2015: After 55 days of court time, Kozloff finds Natsis guilty of the remaining counts: Impaired and dangerous driving, both causing death. Despite hours and days of relentless cross-examination by Natsis's defence team that exposed OPP bungling, Kozloff finds there's enough physical evidence and testimony from reliable witness to remove any doubt of her guilt.

June 10, 2015: Natsis will return to court to set a date for sentencing, which may take place in Pembroke.

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Christy Natsis found guilty of impaired driving causing deat

Postby Thomas » Sat May 30, 2015 4:26 am

A prominent Pembroke dentist who drank and drove before killing a father of three is now staring down a lengthy prison term after a judge found her guilty of impaired and dangerous driving causing death.

After a marathon trial that spanned nearly three years and featured the best team of defence lawyers money can buy in Ottawa, Dr. Christy Natsis is now facing that stark reality after a judge concluded Friday that her driving on the night of March 31, 2011 was a danger to the public and caused the death of Bryan Casey in a head-on crash on Hwy. 17 near Arnprior.

The verdict was a huge victory for Crown prosecutors, who had to overcome a ruling earlier in the trial that tossed out breath readings that showed Natsis had a blood-alcohol level nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit after the judge found the OPP violated her Charter rights by repeatedly interrupting — and eventually hanging up on — a call to her lawyer.

Immediately following the verdict, a wave of relief washed over Casey’s widow, LeeEllen Carroll, and his father, Gus, who sat quietly in the courtroom as they have for all 55 previous days of the long-running trial.

“We’ve been in court every single day of the trial and we’ve heard the evidence, we know the facts, we know the truth,” Carroll said outside the courthouse.

“We are relieved that justice is being done. The pain inflicted upon us and our families from the crash and the drawn out court case has left a huge impact on our family. It should not be experienced by others. I will never forget the look on my children’s faces when I told them what happened. I will never forget the pain in their eyes and in their hearts,” Carroll said.

Natis showed little reaction after Ontario Court Justice Neil Kozloff took three hours to deliver his verdict, meticulously outlining the evidence of each of the more than two dozen witnesses who testified during the trial. In the end, he said he chose to rely on the eyewitness evidence that painted a picture of a heavily intoxicated and unsteady Natsis leaving the Crazy Horse bar in Kanata following two glasses of wine, backing her Ford Expedition into a parked car and then swerving all over the highway at speeds that at times approached 130 km/h. Kozloff said he accepted witness evidence that she nearly hit a concrete wall during the 24-minute drive that ended with her slamming head-on into Casey’s Dodge pickup.

Numerous witnesses — other drivers who stepped to help, police officers and a paramedic — said they detected an odour of alcohol on Natsis following the crash, the judge added. Natsis’ average speed was 112 km/h during the 45 kilometre drive, the judge noted.

“Such conduct demonstrates a recklessness in creating a risk or danger to other users of the highway which, in considering the evidence of driving conduct, establishes a pattern of disregard for the safety of other users of the highway which amounts to a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonably prudent driver,” said Kozloff.

Casey, 50, suffered a broken femur, hip and pelvis and was bleeding to death internally when he went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance on the way to hospital in Ottawa.

Evidence collected by the OPP from the crash scene and computer modules inside Natsis and Casey’s wrecked vehicles further convinced the judge of Natsis’s guilt, he said. The trial heard evidence that Casey himself had a blood-alcohol level 1 1/2 times the legal limit to drive, but gouge marks and the debris field proved the crash occurred entirely within Casey’s eastbound lane.

Data gathered from Natsis’ vehicle showed she never slowed from the 87 km/h she was driving in the seconds before hitting Casey, who was not at all to blame for the fatal crash, Kozloff said.

“Mr. Casey, in spite of his elevated blood-alcohol level, perceived the danger presented by the presence of the Natsis vehicle entirely within his lane and reacted. He removed his foot from the accelerator, he applied his brakes, he began to turn his vehicle away and he reduced his speed … thereby taking evasive action in an apparent and tragically unsuccessful attempt to avoid a collision with the Ford Expedition,” Kozloff said.

Natsis’s highly skilled defence team, made up of top lawyers Michael Edelson and his partners, Vince Clifford and Solomon Friedman, had spent a great deal of the trial attacking the OPP’s collision investigation and accusing the officers involved of being biased and incompetent. Their efforts didn’t sway the judge, who noted the “sloppiness” of portions of collision investigator Shawn Kelly’s crash report but ultimately accepted its key findings, which were supported by the evidence and the work of other officers.

The 50-year-old Natsis — who remains out of custody on bail — will next return to court on June 10 when a date for her sentencing hearing is expected to be set.

Impaired driving causing death convictions typically carry prison sentences of between two and five years for first time offenders.

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Christy Natsis found guilty of impaired driving causing deat

Postby Thomas » Sat May 30, 2015 1:08 pm

'The pain inflicted ... by the crash and the drawn-out court case has left a huge impact,' widow says

A dentist from Pembroke, Ont., has been found guilty of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death after a trial that lasted nearly three years.

Justice Neil Kozloff ruled that Dr. Christy Natsis was drunk when the sport utility vehicle she was driving crossed the centre line on Highway 17 near Arnprior, Ont., and crashed head-on into a pickup truck driven by Bryan Casey in March 31, 2011.

Casey, who was 50 at the time of the crash, later died of his injuries. He left behind his wife and three children.

Lawyers for the defence and Crown are next scheduled to meet in court on June 10 to discuss pre-sentencing issues.

Outside the courtroom Friday, after the verdict had been read, Casey's family told reporters they were thankful.

"We have been in court every single day of the trial and we've heard the evidence, we know the facts, we know the truth, and we are relieved that justice is being done," said LeeEllen Carrol, Casey's widow. "The pain inflicted on us and our families by the crash and the drawn-out court case has left a huge impact on our family and should not be experienced by others.

"I will never forget the look on my children's faces when I told them what happened. I will never forget the pain in their eyes and in their hearts," she said.

Casey's father, William 'Gus' Casey, agreed.

"It's been a very long trial. It was a very painful experience to lose my son Bryan in the prime of his life, and to experience and witness the grief and [heartbreak] and pain of LeeEllen and their children, Bryan's brothers and sisters, and our extended families in Ireland, the U.K. and Canada," he said.

"Bryan was a good son and a credit to his family. May the good lord hold Bryan in the palm of his hand, until we meet again."

Witnesses credible and reliable, judge ruled

There was little reaction from Natsis and her husband as Kozloff delivered the verdict early Friday afternoon. Carroll, meanwhile, hugged family members.

Before giving his decision, Kozloff spent about three hours going through the main points of the case.

He called the witnesses credible and reliable, including staff at a Kanata bar who said Natsis smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated, drivers who saw Natsis weaving erratically through traffic, and emergency personnel who were on scene after the 2011 crash.

All of their testimony indicated that Natsis was impaired at the time, Kozloff said, adding that her recklessness directly contributed to Casey's death.

Some evidence ruled inadmissible

Natsis had pleaded not guilty to charges of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit.

Natsis's blood-alcohol level was nearly 2½ times the legal limit but Kozloff tossed that evidence after ruling that the arresting officer denied Natsis the right to speak with her lawyer.

He found that OPP Const. Shawn Kelly contravened one of the fundamental requirements of an expert witness, namely that he be independent, unbiased and impartial, and ruled "significant portions" of his testimony were inadmissible.

But Kozloff said Kelly's analysis of the collision — scrapes and gouges in the road, distance and speed calculations, and other technical findings — was admissible.

Lawyers for Natsis had argued the testimony of three OPP officers should be excluded because they were "infected with the twin viruses of tunnel vision and confirmation bias."

Kozloff refuted that claim.

The defence did not call any evidence in the case, which wrapped up in October. Closing arguments were submitted in writing.

Trial about 10 times longer than average, lawyer says

The trial has been "longer by about 10 times than your average impaired driving case," said James Foord, a past president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa.

"The issues raised in the case are significant," Foord said Friday on Ottawa Morning. "And the charges facing Ms. Natsis were also grave."

Casey's family has also launched a civil lawsuit against Natsis seeking $500,000 in damages for Casey's death.

That case has been on hold, pending the end of the criminal trial.

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Sentencing hearing set for impaired driver Dr. Christy Natsi

Postby Thomas » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:14 am

Sentencing hearing set for October for impaired driver Dr. Christy Natsis

A three-day sentencing hearing has been set in October for a prominent Pembroke dentist convicted of impaired and dangerous driving causing death.

Dr. Christy Natsis’s sentencing hearing will be held on Oct. 13, 14 and 15 in Pembroke. Natsis was convicted in May of impaired and dangerous driving causing the death of 50-year-old Ottawa father of three Bryan Casey in a head on crash on Hwy. 17 near Arnprior on March 31, 2011.

Natsis’s trial heard she never touched the brakes before crossing the centre line and slamming into Casey’s truck. Other drivers described seeing her black Ford Expedition speeding and swerving down the highway in the moments before the crash, while further witnesses described in court how they saw a wobbly and staggering Natsis climb behind the wheel and then back into a parked car as she left a Kanata bar and grill where she had ordered two glasses of wine.

A breath sample revealed Natsis had a blood-alcohol level nearly 2 1/2 times the legal limit shortly after the crash, although those results were not permitted into evidence because the judge found the Ontario Provincial Police violated Natsis’s Charter rights by repeatedly interrupting a call to her lawyer.

Casey also had a blood-alcohol level that was 1 1/2 times the legal limit to drive, although a judge found that Casey had taken steps to slow down and move out of the way before being struck by Natsis.

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Christy Natsis: Vilified dentist prepares for prison

Postby Thomas » Thu Nov 12, 2015 2:59 am

Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis will go to prison Thursday, four years after she killed a man in a drunk driving crash.

She is hardly sympathetic.

For two long years she bankrolled a scorched-earth defence that attacked every facet of the Crown's case -- the ability of OPP investigators, the integrity of witnesses and the actions of the dead man himself.

Had she pleaded guilty and thrown herself on the mercy of the court, Judge Neil Kozloff would have had hard proof of her remorse and she would be looking at less time than the 3 1/2- to eight-year stretch she is likely to get at her sentencing.

In a letter to the editor, a Sun reader spoke for many when he urged the judge to "put this lady away long enough so people know that, yes, there is still responsibility for one's actions, no matter how much money you have or how good your lawyer is."

She will be sentenced Thursday, but many have already judged her as a manipulative, callous drunk weeping crocodile tears at the prison's gate.

But who, in her situation, would have acted differently?

***

Natsis, 50, left the Crazy Horse bar in Kanata after wings and white wine on March 31, 2011.

Travelling along Hwy. 17, somewhere near Arnprior, her SUV edged into oncoming traffic.

Bryan Casey, driving a Dodge Dakota pickup truck, tried to avoid her but couldn't, according to the judge's findings.

The 50-year-old father did not survive.

Natsis was unsteady but otherwise fine.

On the face of it, the prosecution's case was airtight.

She had as much as 209 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood -- about 2 1/2 times the legal limit -- according to tests done at the hospital where she was taken after the crash.

Witnesses lined up to testify about a black SUV careening through traffic in the lead-up to the collision.

But there was no shortage of "triable issues" -- the legal term of art for things to argue about.

Chief among them was Casey's own alcohol level, which threw into question the cause of the crash.

An autopsy revealed his blood-alcohol level was as high as 145 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood -- the legal limit is 80 -- and the court heard his level of intoxication at the time of collision was likely higher because transfusions he received could have diluted his blood.

Casey could as easily have been the villain of the piece; his blood-alcohol level certainly cast doubt upon the crash's cause, especially when coupled with a sloppy report penned by OPP collisions investigator Const. Shawn Kelly.

Indeed, the cops didn't exactly cover themselves with glory.

Const. Ryan Besner almost single-handedly scuppered the Crown's case on the very night of Natsis's arrest when he impatiently ended a 40-minute phone call she was having with her lawyer.

The judge did not mince words, finding Besner made six "deliberate, systematic and unwarranted" interruptions before ending the call over her lawyer's protests -- a "death blow" to her rights to counsel.

Besner, who'd admitted he felt "jerked around" by the long phone call, should have known better.

There was a very real chance of an acquittal.

***

No sentence can bring Bryan Casey back from the dead, though he will never be truly gone for the people who love him still.

But Natsis's looming incarceration also comes at a cost.

At her sentencing hearing the court heard from dozens of people and organizations she'd helped -- she gave discount dental work to poor families, raised thousands of dollars for the hospital and, as one letter writer put it, she made Pembroke "a better place."

The law says she will go to prison to teach her a lesson and as a cautionary tale to other would-be drunk drivers.

Thursday will bring justice, however imperfect. But it should not be a day of celebration.

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Natsis tried everything, except admitting her guilt

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 13, 2015 7:31 am

Natsis tried everything, except admitting her guilt

Christy Natsis wakes up in jail Friday morning and — there’s no charitable way to say this — it’s about time.

Her trial began Nov. 13, 2012. Exactly three years later, minus a day, she was sentenced to five years in prison for driving recklessly drunk down Highway 17 on the evening of March 31, 2011, veering into the oncoming lane and killing Bryan Casey, 50, a husband and father of three.

Three years later? Now consider, too, it is four years, seven months and 13 days after the crime: an appalling stretch of time to arrive at a resolution.

(Granted, there were long breaks, but when other lawyers hear the case took 55 trial days, they just shake their heads.)

The delay is exceedingly unfair to the Casey family, who conducted themselves with grace throughout the proceedings, and it is unfair, even, to Natsis, who now gives up a thriving dental practice, her family home and comforts, for life behind bars.

“What was it, 56 days in court?” said Gregg Thomson, a victim services worker with the anti-drunk driving group MADD. “Ridiculous.”

He attended on many of the trial dates. “Within our circles, we characterize this as revictimization,” he said. “How many times has the family been to court? And there was no reflection of that in the sentence.”

Indeed, this is a hallmark of the case.

What the public will remember about the Natsis matter is not how a responsible citizen of Pembroke — successful businesswoman, philanthropist, and devoted mother — made a terrible mistake one day, an error in judgment forgivable because of life’s stresses.

Rather, it will be how a privileged professional fought the charges tooth and nail by hiring Ottawa’s leading criminal lawyer, only to be presented in court as some kind of aggrieved victim of a sloppy prosecutorial system.

The OPP investigators, surely, must have felt as though they were on trial.

The 40 minutes in the hospital bathroom, talking to a lawyer, with frequent interruptions from an OPP officer trying to get a breath sample? A terrible thing, a “flagrant and intentional” breach of her Charter rights to counsel, a judge ruled partway through the proceedings, throwing out an alarmingly high alcohol reading.

Other officers, meanwhile, were said to be embellishing or exaggerating, or biased or incompetent. They didn’t follow their own procedures. They mixed up east and west in reports. They destroyed evidence. The experts weren’t really experts. The data download from her Ford Expedition was corrupted.

The whole case, the defence argued in a 619-page submission, had to be thrown out, couldn’t be trusted. Oh, the poor woman — to be subjected to such brutish treatment.

Well, thank the Lord that Justice Neil Kozloff kept his eye on the essentials: she was drunk, she drove dangerously, she killed somebody.

Neither did she make only a slight driving error. She was fully into Casey’s lane and made no braking attempt, while he veered away, braked to about 40 km/h and was struck as he nearly drove off the road.

Court also heard about her driving record: speeding tickets of 138, 140 and 135 kilometres an hour since 2002.

The tiny woman cried a little when the courtroom was emptying and, while there is no joy in these matters, neither can there be much sympathy for her plight. This reckoning was a long time coming.

Offenders don’t get the defence they deserve, they get the defence they can afford. And she bought the best, only to have it fail, perhaps the second-biggest mistake she made since March 31, 2011. She had, surely, other options.

Lead lawyer Michael Edelson, unaccustomed to losing, brushed by waiting reporters with a quick “no comment.”

Outside, meanwhile, there were Casey’s father, William (Gus), and his widow, LeeEllen Carroll, leaning on each for support, as they emerged into a dreary drizzle on Elgin Street.

It was reassuring to hear Carroll say that, though her husband was “stolen,” she would not allow herself to be lost in sorrow. Simply, she can’t afford to be.

“All of our children had their father taken away from them. They will not lose their mother as well,” she said, reading from a prepared statement.

“I do not wish to be consumed by bitterness nor anger. We wish no further harm to the offender. I hope and pray our children can find peace.”

And with that, she and Gus walked off, he hobbling a little, into November’s gloom — free at least, their burden, hopefully, lighter.

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Christy Natsis asks appeal court to quash drunk driving conv

Postby Thomas » Thu Nov 26, 2015 4:33 am

Christy Natsis asks appeal court to quash drunk driving conviction, seeks bail

Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis is seeking to be let out of prison on bail after asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to toss out her conviction for impaired and dangerous driving causing death and to find her not guilty or order a new trial.

Natsis was sentenced two weeks ago to five years in prison, but will be back in court in Toronto on Friday asking to be released after accusing the judge who found her guilty of making several errors in law.

According to her notice of appeal, which was filed Tuesday, Natsis argues that Ontario Court Justice Neil Kozloff shouldn’t have admitted or relied upon the expert evidence of the Ontario Provincial Police officers who investigated the March 31, 2011, crash that killed 50-year-old father of three Bryan Casey.

Casey’s widow, LeeEllen Carroll, said Wednesday the family did not wish to comment.

Natsis was sentenced to an additional 40 days in jail after pleading guilty to breaching her bail conditions by buying two bottles of vodka in November 2011.

Natsis alleges that the judge’s decision to rely on the evidence of the prosecution’s principal collision reconstructionist despite his “demonstrated bias” resulted in a “substantial unfairness” to Natsis and could have affected the verdict.

“In light of the trial judge’s strong findings of bias against the Crown’s main accident reconstruction witness, it was unreasonable for him to conclude that he could nonetheless accept the aspects of the evidence bearing on the key question in dispute — the location of the collision on the roadway — and then rely on those aspects of the evidence to find the Appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” the notice of appeal alleged.

Natsis also alleged that the judge misapprehended evidence of two other OPP officers who were called to testify as expert witnesses because there work was “substantially based” on Const. Shawn Kelly’s findings.

They further alleged that the trial judge’s reasons for finding Natsis guilty were “legally insufficient” given they “entirely fail to engage” with her defence lawyers’ 100-page attack on the technical and expert evidence of the three officers.

Natsis, who hired top criminal defence lawyers Michael Edelson, Vince Clifford and Solomon Friedman to represent her during the marathon trial that stretched over three years and took 55 days to complete, is represented on the appeal by Toronto lawyers Marie Henein and Matthew Gourlay.

Henein is widely considered one of the top legal minds in the country. She is defending former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi on sexual assault charges and has argued numerous cases in front of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada.

In the notice of appeal, Natsis and her lawyers also alleged the judge erred in determining that draft reports from the collision investigators didn’t need to be disclosed to the defence. The judge’s finding that the “wilful” destruction of draft reports into the collision did not preclude the Crown from relying on the final reports as proof of Natsis’s guilt was an error, the notice of appeal alleged.

If successful, Natsis is asking the Court of Appeal to quash her convictions and either acquit her or order a new trial.

The judge found that Natsis crossed the centre line and plowed head on into Casey’s pickup truck on Hwy. 17 near Arnprior. Both drivers had blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit to drive, although breath readings that showed Natsis was 2 1/2 times the legal limit weren’t admitted into evidence because the OPP violated her rights to a lawyer.

Natsis is going before the Court of Appeal on Friday to seek her release pending the hearing of the appeal. It is not uncommon for people who have been convicted and sentenced to prison or jail time to be released on bail pending their appeal.

To qualify for bail, the offender needs to establish that the appeal is not frivolous, will surrender into custody and that continued detention is not necessary in the public interest. People who are released on bail pending appeal are usually put under a variety of conditions, including the requirement to report back to jail one day prior to the appeal being heard.

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-new ... seeks-bail
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Christy Natsis using Jian Ghomeshi's lawyer to appeal convic

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 27, 2015 3:07 am

Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis has turned to disgraced CBC host Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer in a bit to appeal her conviction on a deadly 2008 drunk driving crash.

Top Toronto litigators Marie Henein and Matthew Gourlay will represent Natsis as she asks the court to quash her conviction or order a new trial.

(Henein is representing Ghomeshi, who faces five charges, including four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking.)

Natsis will also try to get bail Friday, as her lawyers perfect the appeal.

She was sentenced on Nov. 12 after a 55-day trial; a key component of her defence was an attack on the credibility of OPP crash reconstruction officers.

In his reasons for judgement, Ontario Court Judge Neil Kozloff conceded the OPP had done a less than stellar job but was sufficiently comfortable with aspects of their reports and witness observations to conclude that Natsis had swerved into oncoming traffic on Hwy. 17 near Arnprior — and thus that she was guilty of causing the March 31, 2011 crash that killed Bryan Casey.

Kozloff found her guilty of impaired and dangerous driving, both causing death.

In a notice of appeal filed earlier this week, the OPP’s haphazard and allegedly biased investigation was again called into question.

“In light of the trial judge’s strong findings of bias against the Crown’s main accident reconstruction witness it was unreasonable for him to conclude that he could nonetheless accept the aspects of the evidence bearing on the key question in dispute,” the notice of appeal says.

Lawyers for Natsis will appear in the Court of Appeal for Ontario on Friday to argue for her release on bail while her appeal is being heard.

Natsis remains at the Innes Rd. jail for now.

http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/11/26/chr ... conviction
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