Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

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Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:56 pm

Edelson grills OPP officer at Natsis trial

An OPP officer questioning Dr. Christy Natsis about how much she’d had to drink after she asked for a lawyer at the scene of a fatal crash was a “flagrant breach of her Charter rights,” the Pembroke dentist’s lawyer charged Thursday.

“You knew you were doing something you shouldn’t have been doing,” Michael Edelson put to Const. Ryan Besner at Natsis’ trial on charges she killed Bryan Casey while driving drunk in a crash on Hwy. 17 in March 2011.

“I should have known it,” Besner said. “Honest to goodness, I didn’t know it.”

Besner – who said he didn’t realize his mistake until another officer pointed it out later – agreed he asked the question for no other reason than to get incriminating evidence.

“I’m not going to answer you,” replied Natsis, who’d refused to give a breath sample until her lawyer told her what to do. “I want to but I’m not going to.”

Edelson hammered Besner with questions.

He asked if he’d heard of “tunnel vision,” accused him of embellishing his testimony and charged his memory was “tainted.”

Besner agreed that some of his testimony – including that Natsis looked up at him slowly when he first saw her at the scene, her face muscles relaxed – did not appear in his notes, which included her swaying with red, “glossy” eyes and smelling of alcohol.

“You hold it back so you can ambush counsel?” Edelson asked.

“Definitely not, sir,” answered Besner, who’d said “unfortunately, I’m human and I didn’t put them in there.”

It also wasn’t in his notes that he quickly decided from the crash debris that Natsis’ SUV had crossed the centre line and the impact was in Casey’s lane.

Besner said he arrested Natsis immediately after seeing her – “five seconds at the most,” which Edelson noted another officer testified left him “flabbergasted.”

He didn’t talk to her first, he conceded to Edelson, who put to him drivers can have “jello legs” after a near miss, let alone a “massive head-on collision,” and that air bag particulate can cause red eyes.

Edelson grilled Besner on his efforts to reach three different lawyers for Natsis, charging that while trying to reach one of them he made a “perfunctory” call then “blew it off.”

“I did my danged best to try to get her a lawyer,” Besner said. “The quicker I could find her a lawyer the better it would be for me and your client.”

The trial continues Friday.

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Re: Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

Postby Thomas » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:17 am

Natsis defence again reviewing undisclosed OPP notes

The defence for Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis — on trial for charges of impaired driving causing death — is once again reviewing previously undisclosed material from Ontario Provincial Police.

The trial was adjourned to next Tuesday to give lawyer Michael Edelson and his team time to review notes by an OPP collision reconstructionist.

It's the second time during the trial — which has been running for nearly a year — that the defence has needed time to review previously undisclosed material.

Natsis is facing several charges in the death of Bryan Casey, a father of three, after their vehicles collided on Highway 17 in March 2011. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit.

21 case-related entries in OPP officer's notebook discovered

On Thursday afternoon, court heard how another OPP investigator failed to bring forward material related to the case.

On Wednesday, OPP collision reconstructionist Const. Jeff Hewitt was asked about notes he made in relation to a report he wrote on the crash.

Edelson admonished Hewitt for not taking enough notes, which he characterized as "vital" in a criminal case.

Hewitt then told the Crown Thursday morning that he found another entry he hadn't yet disclosed about the crash. Edelson then asked the Crown to go back and review all of Hewitt's duty notebooks.

hi-ott-dentisttrial-852
Christy Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit in a 2011 fatal crash.

Later on Thursday, the Crown told court there were 21 entries in Hewitt's notes where he'd referred to this case, which the Crown had only just learned about.

Edelson said he had a "certain amount of distrust" after OPP Const. Shawn Kelly testified earlier in the trial that he deleted a first draft of his report that showed Natsis was at fault for the crash.

Edelson said Kelly had crossed a line between a neutral investigator and somebody that was trying to convict Natsis.

Crown hoping for 'expert' designation

On Wednesday, the Crown continued to push for Hewitt's testimony to be considered expert testimony.

Crown Prosecutor John Ramsey spent two hours detailing the resume of Hewitt, who produced a report on the fatal crash.

This came after two days of testimony from Ford automotive engineer Jim Engle.

The Crown wants to ensure Hewitt's credibility remains intact because, earlier in the trial, Edelson attacked the testimony of Kelly, the OPP's lead traffic investigator.

Edelson presented emails he claimed show the officer blurred the lines between an investigator seeking a conviction and an impartial expert and argued Kelly's testimony should not be admitted.

Kelly had testified the crash occurred in the Natsis’s lane, but he also admitted there were errors in his report.

With that setback to their case, Crown prosecutors hope Hewitt’s testimony will help convict Natsis. Justice Neil Kozloff said he would rule at a later date whether Hewitt would be an expert witness.

The Crown said they have four more witnesses to call after Hewitt, each of them from the OPP.

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Re: Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

Postby Thomas » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:10 am

Natsis trial: OPP collision reconstructionist relied on faulty information

BY SHAAMINI YOGARETNAM, OTTAWA CITIZEN DECEMBER 9, 2013

OTTAWA — An OPP collision reconstructionist, whose evidence the defence has already moved to have excluded in its entirety, agreed Monday that without having been on the scene of the fatal collision that killed Bryan Casey, his report on the crash can only rely on the incomplete and sometimes incorrect information he received from another officer.

The defence resumed its cross-examination of Const. Jeffrey Hewitt in the criminal trial of Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis. Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, and dangerous driving causing death.

“You are restricted by the quality of the photograph, the angle of the photograph?” defence lawyer Vince Clifford, one of three partners at a prominent criminal defence firm who are representing Natsis in a trial that began more than a year ago, asked the officer.

Hewitt admitted that his entire report and assessment of the collision is based on the information gathered and photographed by Const. Shawn Kelly, who was actually at the scene of the collision on March 31, 2011.

Clifford asked the constable if his opinion would be affected if something was missed at the site of the collision.

“Yes,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt also testified that he contacted the officer who was at the scene earlier this year when he was preparing for trial. Marks that had been identified as possible braking skids looked to Hewitt as pre-existing road lines that had been painted over.

Kelly’s report also said that there were no pre- or post-collision tire marks in the area, but a photograph entered into evidence taken the night of the collision, clearly shows Natsis’s Ford Expedition resting perpendicular to a tire mark in the gravel off the road.

Clifford said it demonstrated an “inability” to note the marks.

The defence has filed an application to have Hewitt’s testimony and evidence tossed out or to have a stay of proceedings, after Hewitt admitted that he deleted draft files of reports in accordance with an OPP-wide policy.

The judge has said he will consider all applications at the end of the trial.

The trial continues Tuesday.

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Re: Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

Postby Thomas » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:32 pm

OPP crash investigation under scrutiny at Natsis trial

The work of OPP investigators handling the impaired driving case of Christy Natsis came under heavy scrutiny at her trial on Thursday.

Natsis was charged of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit after her SUV crashed head-on with a pickup truck driven by Bryan Casey in March of 2011.

Casey, a father of three from Ottawa, later died from his injuries.

Two OPP crash investigators — lead crash investigator Const. Shawn Kelly and crash reconstructionist Const. Jeffrey Hewitt — have testified at this trial, with both concluding the SUV driven by Natsis crossed into Casey's lane seconds before impact.

But defence lawyer Michael Edelson questioned their reporting methods and procedures Thursday while grilling Sgt. Mark Wright, the provincial co-ordinator of the collision investigations and reconstruction program.

Both Hewitt and Kelly testified the first drafts of their findings were edited by colleagues assigned to review their work and that the originals no longer exist.

Edelson asked Wright that if there were substantive errors in the initial draft, shouldn't the Crown and defence get to see those mistakes.

Wright answered "it's a matter we've never considered in the past" but added that if errors were numerous and consistent they would have raised red flags and come to his attention.

OPP crash expert was new to job

Edelson also questioned Wright over Hewitt's credibility as a reconstructionist, as Hewitt was new to the job and therefore on probation.

On cross-examination Wright said those on probation need to have three crash investigation reports formally evaluated to be recognized as an expert.

He said it was mandatory in the OPP code of practice he himself wrote.

When Edelson asked if that had been done in Hewitt's case, Wright said it hadn't.

But he added "I know from his supervisor that he completed the evaluation process and Hewitt's supervisor was satisfied with his ability," he said.

The cross-examination is expected to continue Friday.

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Re: Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

Postby Thomas » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:51 pm

Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial faces another long delay

OTTAWA — The drunk driving trial of Dr. Christy Natsis will be delayed at least another four months.

Natsis’ trial began in November 2012, but will now stretch into April 2014 at the earliest.

Lawyers expect they’ll need three weeks to continue the Crown’s case against the 49-year-old Pembroke dentist accused of killing Bryan Casey in a crash on March 31, 2011 on Hwy. 17 near Arnprior.

Prosecutors still need to call to testify the OPP officer who reviewed the reports of the OPP collision investigator and crash reconstructionist and a mechanic who examined both vehicles and recovered a control module from Natsis’ Ford Expedition.

An exact date when the trial will resume will likely be set in the next two weeks.

The earliest the trial could resume would be April, but could be delayed until May or June.

Even then, the Crown and defence will require more time to submit written submissions on the admissibility of the collision reconstructionist and collision investigator’s evidence, which Natsis is challenging.

It is the second time the trial has faced a lengthy delay.

Lawyers for both the Crown and defence had hoped the case would be wrapped up when they set November and December dates for the trial to continue in May.

Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, and dangerous driving causing death.

Natsis had breathalyzer readings that showed she had a blood-alcohol level two-and-a-half times the legal limit to drive following the fatal crash. However, those readings were tossed out of evidence after a judge found the OPP had violated her rights to a lawyer.

The trial has heard that Casey also had a blood-alcohol level one-and-a-half times the legal limit.

Natsis is seeking to have the charges against her stayed, arguing that the OPP lost or destroyed evidence in the form of draft report of the collision investigator and reconstructionist.

The collision investigator, OPP officer Shawn Kelly, testified that Natsis’ Ford had crossed the centre line, hitting Casey’s Dodge Dakota pickup truck head-on. Casey died from massive internal injuries.

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Re: Christy Natsis drunk-driving trial

Postby Thomas » Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:00 pm

Egan: Interminable Natsis trial seems unfair to all involved

OTTAWA — As a reader, I follow some courtroom trials with fascination, others with growing dread.

So it is with the case of Dr. Christy Natsis, the prominent Pembroke dentist on trial in the accident that took the life of Bryan Casey, 50, a father of three young children.

The high-speed crash occurred in March 2011 on Highway 17 near Arnprior. As we approach the third anniversary, nothing is settled.

The police have looked bad, the “system” looks broken, the lawyers prone to our worst prejudices about the profession. Casey’s father, William, has travelled here from England, for weeks at a time, to observe the proceedings. He must wonder if he’s landed, not on an old colony, but another planet. This is the Canadian way?

This might possibly be the longest trial of its kind in the history of the city.

It began in November 2012. It was originally scheduled for four weeks and, as trials go, four weeks does not make for a rush job.

It did not get done. Not even close. It was not yet a third over at that point.

Earlier this month, the trial was delayed again until next May, when another scheduled stretch of three weeks is to begin. Then, one assumes, the judge will reserve on the ruling, adding to more waiting — if the case hasn’t completely derailed by then.

This is hardly fair to the Casey family nor, really, is it fair to Natsis.

Already, we know how this will end for almost everyone. It will end badly.

She is charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, and dangerous driving causing death.

A breath test that night found Natsis had readings of blood-alcohol 2 1/2 times the legal limit. However, those readings were tossed out of evidence after a judge found the Ontario Provincial Police had violated her rights to a lawyer.

And there is further evidence — contested, mind you — that the accident occurred in Casey’s lane, while he too was over the legal limit of alcohol.

The case also underlines an old saw: an accused does not get the best defence she deserves, she gets the best defence she can afford. Our legal system is the reverse of health care — you buy the very best, you aren’t apportioned according to need.

Natsis has employed the firm of Michael Edelson. He really is quite brilliant, deserving of his reputation as one of the city’s best jurists.

This is the man who once cross-examined Terry Kilrea in the trial of Larry O’Brien, the former mayor, for seven days.

And he isn’t alone. Most days, Edelson is accompanied by two other lawyers from his firm, including Vince Clifford.

They’ve done their homework. One OPP officer — not even on the scene that night — between his initial Crown testimony and the cross-examination, was on the stand for almost two weeks.

There is a perfectly good explanation for this meticulous, methodical scrutiny: an accused person should not be convicted on the basis of questionable or outright shoddy police work. These are, after all, life-changing matters.

If nothing else, the case should serve as a caution to the OPP about how to handle a suspect at the scene of a crash and precisely what the “right to counsel” means in an everyday setting.

(Readers will remember Natsis spent an estimated 40 minutes on the phone with a lawyer, while seeking privacy in a hospital washroom, only to have an OPP officer repeatedly interrupt and finally end the discussion.)

With the breath test thrown out, the Edelson team has gone on to blow holes in the police investigation, point out breaches in OPP evidence-saving protocol and challenge the standing of an expert witness.

It would surprise no one, really, if the whole case were to collapse on its battered foundation.

I’m like any reader. In a court case, each its own episodic drama, one tries to sort out the black hats from the white, and whether alleged villains get what they deserve.

I imagine, on one side, a prosperous professional with her three sharp lawyers and, on the other, a widow with three children, supported by an aging father from England walking with a cane, celebrating their third Christmas without Dad.

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896, or email kegan@ottawacitizen.com

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Natsis drunk-driving trial set to resume

Postby Thomas » Mon May 12, 2014 10:59 am

The long-running drunk driving trial of Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis will resume Monday morning.

Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, and dangerous driving causing death in a crash on March 31, 2011, near Arnprior that killed Bryan Casey.

Prosecutors still need to call to testify the OPP officer who reviewed the reports of the OPP collision investigator and crash reconstructionist and a mechanic who examined both vehicles and recovered a control module from Natsis‘s Ford Expedition.

Natsis’s breathalyzer readings were tossed out of evidence after a judge found the OPP had violated her rights to a lawyer.

The trial has heard that Casey also had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

Natsis is seeking to have the charges against her stayed, arguing that the OPP lost or destroyed evidence in the form of a draft report of the collision investigator and reconstructionist.

The collision investigator, OPP officer Shawn Kelly, testified that Natsis‘s Ford had crossed the centre line, hitting Casey’s Dodge Dakota pickup truck head-on. Casey, a 50-year-old father of three, died from massive internal injuries.

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Collision expert denies bias to blame for missed errors

Postby Thomas » Tue May 13, 2014 3:28 am

An Ontario Provincial Police collision expert said Monday that he had missed three errors in another officer’s report on the fatal collision that killed Ottawa father of three Bryan Casey more than three years ago.

But Const. Robert Kern denied he had any bias because of his working relationship with Const. Shawn Kelly, the officer whose report he reviewed.

Kern was being question by Crown prosecutor John Ramsey as the trial of Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis resumed after one of several lengthy delays.

Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, and dangerous driving causing death in the crash on March 31, 2011, near Arnprior.

Prosecutors say Natsis drove her car into Casey’s lane and crashed head on with his pickup truck.

The dentist had breathalyzer readings that showed she had a blood-alcohol level 2 1/2 times the legal driving limit.

But Justice Neil Kosloff tossed those reading out of evidence after finding that the OPP had violated Natsis’s rights to a lawyer.

On the night of the crash, the arresting officer repeatedly interrupted Natsis while she was speaking to a lawyer and ultimately took the phone and hung up on the lawyer himself.

The trial, which began in November 2012 is expected to last another two weeks – this week and another in June – and will likely be the longest drunk-driving trial in Canadian legal history.

Scheduling conflicts, and lengthy judicial deliberations, have caused most of the delays.

An exhibit filed Monday was listed as “R quintuple.” That means that from the first “Exhibit A,” the trial has travelled the exhibit alphabet almost five times.

Much of Monday’s evidence was technical but in apparent anticipation of cross-examination by the three-man Natsis defence team, prosecutor Ramsey asked the veteran collision reconstructionist about missing three errors on Kelly’s report — including mixing up east and west, and missing key tire and skid marks.

The soft-spoken Kern said he’s learned of his mistakes through the “jungle telegraph” and from media reports of the trial.

“I take full responsibility for it,” he said. “It was a mistake on my part.”

The OPP has implemented new review procedures of collision reports but Kern said the changes been planned before the Natsis-Casey crash.

Kern is the last prosecution witness.

The trial continues Tuesday.

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Defence lawyer attacks officer’s impartiality

Postby Thomas » Wed May 14, 2014 3:43 am

Christy Natsis’s chief defence counsel accused a senior Ontario Provincial Police officer Tuesday of failing in his “legal and moral obligation” to admit that he made mistakes during the probe of the March 2011 collision that killed Ottawa father of three Bryan Casey.

Pembroke dentist Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, and dangerous driving causing death in the crash near Arnprior.
She has pleaded not guilty.

Const. Robert Kern admitted on Monday that he made mistakes in the review he did of a report compiled by Const. Shawn Kelly, but defence counsel Michael Edelson told Kern the admission had come too late.

Kern testified that he realized he’d made three key errors last year when he heard about Kelly’s own testimony at the trial.

Edelson wanted to know why Kern hadn’t immediately told Crown prosecutor John Ramsay.

“I’m suggesting to you that you had a legal and moral obligation as a police officer to do so,” said Edelson, one of three lawyers on the Natsis defence team. “Did you do anything to advise the Crown that you got it wrong, that Kelly got it wrong?”

Kern said he decided to wait. “I figured it would be something brought up at the time of my evidence,” he said.

Citing email exchanges between Kelly and Kern, the lawyer has questioned the impartiality of the police officers and suggested they had gone beyond their remit as collision investigators by speculating how Natsis might defend herself against the charges.

“He (Kelly) is injecting himself into the case, posing scenarios,” Edelson told him. “What business is it of his? He is becoming a participant in the investigation, making sure all the bases are covered for the police and Crown.”

Prosecutors say Natsis drove her car into Casey’s lane and crashed head on with his pickup truck.

The dentist’s breathalyzer readings showed she had a blood-alcohol level two-and-a-half times the legal driving limit.

But Justice Neil Kozloff tossed those readings out of evidence after finding that the OPP had violated Natsis’s rights to a lawyer.

On the night of the crash, the arresting officer had repeatedly interrupted Natsis while she was speaking to a lawyer by phone and eventually hung up on the lawyer himself.

The trial, which began in November 2012, is expected to last another two weeks — this week and another in June — and will likely be the longest drunk-driving trial in Canadian legal history.

Scheduling conflicts, and lengthy judicial deliberations, have caused most of the delays.

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OPP officer waited year to admit crash report errors

Postby Thomas » Wed May 14, 2014 3:50 am

An OPP collision investigator admitted he waited more than a year to reveal that he was aware of mistakes made by a fellow officer in a report into the 2011 crash on Highway 17 that killed Bryan Casey of Ottawa.

Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis was charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit after her SUV crashed head-on with Casey's pickup truck in March of 2011.

Speaking at her trial on Tuesday in an Ottawa courtroom, OPP Const. Robert Kern admitted fellow crash investigator Const. Shawn Kelly had made mistakes in his investigation but Kern said he didn't notice the mistakes when he reviewed Kelly's work.

Kern said he didn't notice the errors until Kelly testified at Natsis's trial in March 2013.

When defence counsel Michael Edelson cross examined Kern Tuesday, he said he didn't contact crown prosecutors in March to point out his oversight.

Kern said he met with prosecutors last November to prepare him for his testimony.

Edelson repeatedly asked Kern if at that meeting he brought up his oversight in this specific investigation.

"In general terms I would say mistakes can be made in reports like these," Kern responded.

When Justice Neil Kozloff asked Kern to clarify his response, Kern said he hadn't brought up the mistakes in the investigative report.

Natsis's trial began in November 2012 but has been delayed several times for the judge to rule on the admissibility of evidence.

The Crown's case has faced setbacks, most notably when Kozloff ruled breath samples taken from Natsis were inadmissible because her Charter right to legal counsel was violated.

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Bid to exclude evidence could gut prosecution's case

Postby Thomas » Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:48 pm

A decision that could wipe out the most serious charges against a Pembroke dentist on trial for drunk driving causing death is now in the hands of a judge.

The long-running trial of Dr. Christy Natsis is on another lengthy hiatus while Ontario Court Justice Neil Kozloff considers arguments by the dentist’s lawyers that the work of the three Ontario Provincial Police collision investigators who probed the crash is too biased to be considered reliable expert opinion evidence.

As such, the defence argues that the investigators’ calculations and conclusions about what happened in the moments leading up to the March 31, 2011 crash that killed Bryan Casey is so flawed that it shouldn’t be allowed into evidence against Natsis.

But the Crown argued that excluding the police reports into what they believed happened that night on Highway 17 near Arnprior would be “drastic and unprecedented.”

“Innuendo, highly selective interpretation and exaggeration are no substitute for evidence,” according to the Crown.

The stakes are high: If the defence is successful at having the evidence excluded, it would gut the prosecution’s case on the charges of impaired driving and dangerous driving causing death against Natsis. If that happened, it would leave the Crown with the possibility of securing little more than a conviction on a simple impaired driving charge, which carries a minimum $1,000 fine, no minimum jail time and a one-year licence suspension. A person convicted of the more serious offences could be looking at a prison sentence of between two and five years.

Natsis’s team of lawyers — made up of Michael Edelson, and partners Vince Clifford and Solomon Friedman — argue Kozloff has little choice but to exclude the evidence. They argue it is the product of biased investigators whose work was tainted by their desire to secure a conviction for the Crown. They were not independent experts who let science inform their opinions, the defence argues.

The defence cites several problems with the evidence of investigators Shawn Kelly, Jeffrey Hewitt and their supervisor, Robert Kern.

Among them:

    That Kelly and Hewitt worked too closely with the investigating officer;
    That Kelly injected himself into the investigation, musing about a possible legal defence;
    That Kelly subjectively selected relevant evidence and excluded or destroyed other evidence from the crash scene;
    That draft copies of all the reports existed but were deleted; and
    In the opinion of the defence, the reports of Kelly and Hewitt are “infected with the twin viruses of tunnel vision and confirmation bias.”

“There is no single case in the jurisprudence with such an overwhelming evidentiary record of bias, partiality, lack of independence, lack of credibility and utter unreliability,” wrote the defence. “The only possible remedy that could address the fatal flaws in the proposed experts’ qualifications is the exclusion of their evidence.”

The Crown argued the “highly skilled and well trained” officers conducted themselves professionally.

“The body of evidence before the court does not support the exclusion of any, let alone all, of their evidence. They are not biased. They are sufficiently independent. They are not partial. Their conclusions are supported by the documented physical evidence,” the Crown wrote.

The alleged frailties in the testimony of the officers is only something the judge should consider when he determines a verdict at the end of the trial, according to the prosecution.

The trial, which began in November 2012, has already seen critical evidence against Natsis excluded because of police mistakes. Breath samples that showed a blood-alcohol level nearly 2 1/2 half times the legal limit were tossed after the judge concluded the arresting OPP officer violated Natsis’s rights by repeatedly interrupting a phone call to her lawyer. The officer, OPP Const. Ryan Besner, eventually took the phone from Natsis and hung up on the lawyer.

Casey, an engineer at a Siemens Canada project at Chalk River, was on his way home to his wife and three children when, it’s alleged, Natsis crossed the centre line and hit him. Casey, who himself had a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit, went into cardiac arrest en route to the hospital.

His widow, LeeEllen Carroll, and father, William (Gus) Casey, have sat in on nearly every minute of Natsis’ trial, which is now not expected to resume until October.

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Judge to rule on defence motions in October

Postby Thomas » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:44 am

Judge to rule on defence motions in October in the Christy Natsis trial

The trial of Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis will resume in the fall.

After a summer-long hiatus, Ontario court Justice Neil Kozloff is expected to rule on motions submitted by Natsis' lawyers on Oct. 6 when proceedings resume in an Ottawa courthouse.

Natsis is charged in connection with a deadly 2011 crash that killed 50-year-old Brian Casey. According to media reports out of Ottawa, her lawyers have declared that the Ontario Provincial Police's collision investigators who conducted the probe into the mishap are too biased to have given reliable expert opinion. The Daily Observer was unable to reach the Ottawa Crown attorney's office or Natsis' lawyer, Michael Edelson, for comment.

Natsis is facing charges of impaired operation of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving causing death and driving with a blood-alcohol level over 0.08 milligrams causing death.

The trial, which began in November, 2012, has been delayed by numerous adjournments. During testimony given in May before the latest adjournment, an OPP mechanic told the court that there was nothing wrong with the SUV Natsis was driving prior to the collision on Highway 17 outside Arnprior. OPP Constable Stewart Unhola testified the brakes, steering and throttle were in working order.

In other testimony, a veteran OPP crash reconstructionist admitted he missed mistakes made by a fellow officer in a report into the crash. Constable Robert Kern told the court he peer reviewed the crash report of fellow crash investigator Constable Shawn Kelly. In the report Kelly concluded the crash was Natsis' fault but admitted he made several mistakes in his investigation.

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Christy Natsis trial: judge rules some evidence inadmissible

Postby Thomas » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:17 am

A judge ruled "significant portions" of an Ontario Provincial Police officer's testimony were inadmissible in the high-profile drunk driving causing death trial of a Pembroke dentist.

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

The Crown has argued that Natsis was drunk when the sport utility vehicle she was driving crossed the centre line on Highway 17 near Arnprior and crashed head-on into a pickup truck driven by Brian Casey in March 2011. He later died of his injuries.

Natsis was charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit.

On Monday, Justice Neil Kozloff found that OPP Const. Shawn Kelly contravened one of the fundamental requirements of an expert witness, namely that he be independent, unbiased and impartial.

He found Kelly crossed the line from technical traffic collision expert to general investigator in the case. He pointed out that Kelly was included in meetings and emails with the lead investigator and by doing so he wasn't objective.

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

He also refuted the defence claim that there was bias in the evidence of two collision reconstructionists, OPP Consts. Jeffrey Hewitt and Robert Kern.

Kozloff has previously thrown out critical evidence during the trial, which began in the fall of 2012.

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.

The defence is not calling any evidence in the case. Closing arguments are expected to be submitted in writing. Kozloff is expected to deliver a decision on May 29, 2015.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ch ... -1.2787278
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Natsis drunk-driving trial: OPP officer biased, judge rules

Postby Thomas » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:18 am

The police collision investigator in the drunk-driving case against Pembroke dentist Christy Natsis had his credibility shattered Monday when a judge ruled he was biased and withheld evidence favourable to the defence.

In a ruling by Ontario Justice Neil Kozloff, OPP Const. Shawn Kelly was described as an expert witness with a lack of independence and impartiality.

The judge noted Kelly’s own emails to fellow officers, and said: “A fair reading of these emails supports the conclusion that Kelly — almost from the outset of his involvement in this matter — crossed the line from technical traffic collision investigator to general investigation of the offence. He immediately asserted himself as adviser and counsel to the officer in charge. He sought to be included in — and even to initiate — meetings with . . . all others with a ‘vested interest’ in the case.”

The judge said that while the officer was biased, he was not malicious. “He simply did not know any better,” the judge told court.

Natsis, 50, is accused of impaired driving causing death in a 2011 crash that killed Brian Casey, 50, on Hwy. 17 near Arnprior. Casey, like Natsis, was over the legal blood alcohol limit to drive.

The judge on Monday ruled that there was some merit to the defence contention that Const. Kelly “selectively omitted” three witness statements when he prepared his report for the Crown.

All three witness statements were favourable to defence. Two of the statements were from staff at an an Ottawa bar and grill, saying she didn’t appear drunk. The other statement left out of the officer’s report was from a passing motorist who stopped at the crash, reporting that Natsis told him that Casey’s truck had crossed into her lane.

“That utterance was highly relevant to the area of impact issue, which is one of the central issues — if not the pivotal issue — on causation in this case,” the judge ruled.

Still, the OPP officer left it out of his report, and the judge said he has yet to hear a “satisfactory explanation” for the glaring omission.

The officer also left out the fact that the victim in the case was over the limit as he drove home.

The judge has excluded portions of the officer’s expert testimony, as he doesn’t consider him an expert witness in all areas of the case. The judge even ruled that the collision investigator is not qualified to testify in this case as an expert when it comes to tire marks at crash scenes.

The judge’s ruling is the latest blow to the prosecution’s case.

The trial, which began two years ago, has seen lead defence lawyer Michael Edelson dissect the way the OPP officers do business.

Edelson and his partners successfully had Natsis‘s breathalyzer readings tossed out of court when a judge ruled that an OPP constable trampled her charter right to a lawyer on the night of her arrest.

The breathalyzer readings showed she had a blood-alcohol level 2 1/2 times to legal limit to drive when she collided with Casey, whose own blood-alcohol level was 1 1/2 times the legal limit. He died from massive internal injuries.

The court has also heard about several errors in OPP reports, and that all of their draft copies of the reports in question were deleted before trial.

The judge is scheduled to deliver his verdict in the case on May 29.

gdimmock@ottawacitizen.com

http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-new ... udge-rules
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OPP evidence tossed from Natsis trial

Postby Thomas » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:14 am

The drunk driving trial of Pembroke dentist Dr. Christy Natsis resumed Monday with the judge in the case ruling that some of the OPP evidence is inadmissible, stating that it was biased.

Judge Neil Kozloff said that in his report the officer in question dropped witness statements that were favourable to the defence.

Earlier in the trial – which is in its second year – breath samples showing that Natsis had 2 ½ times the legal limit of alcohol in her system were also thrown out of court, as were the charges of driving with a blood-alcohol level over 80.

Natsis is accused of impaired and dangerous driving, both causing death, after Bryan Casey was killed in a collision on Highway 17 near Arnprior on March 31st, 2011.

Closing arguments are set for December and the judge is expected to rule on the case in May of 2015.

http://valleyheritageradio.ca/opp-evide ... sis-trial/
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