Door ajar while Natsis made call to lawyer, trial hears

Defence lawyers of a Pembroke dentist accused of impaired driving causing death questioned police at her trial over whether her rights to legal counsel were violated during a phone call to a lawyer.
Trial of Dr. Christy Natsis hears that the door separating her from police was ajar while she spoke to counsel. 1:50

Defence lawyers of a Pembroke dentist accused of impaired driving causing death questioned police at her trial Wednesday over whether her rights to legal counsel were violated during a phone call to a lawyer.

At issue is the phone call Dr. Christy Natsis made to a lawyer while in the Arnprior hospital after she was involved in a collision in March 2011 crash that killed 50-year-old Bryan Casey of Ottawa.

Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 
Dr. Christy Natsis is charged with impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit. (CBC)

OPP Constable Joe Limlaw said Tuesday that on the night of the crash Natsis had showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.211, or 211 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, more than two times the legal limit.

Defence lawyer Michael Edelson objected to the blood alcohol levels being introduced in court, since he argued Natsis' right to legal counsel was violated that night when another OPP officer interrupted Natsis a number of times during her phone call to a lawyer. The officer, Const. Ryan Besner, later took the phone from her and hung up on the lawyer.

Under cross-examination Wednesday, Limlaw admitted that the door to the bathroom where Natsis was speaking with her lawyer was ajar.

Besner had earlier testified the door was closed, and that he interrupted a number of times to check on her well-being.

Defence lawyer Michael Edelson said the lack of privacy and interruptions were a breach of Natsis' charter rights to legal counsel and asked the court to allow Mike March — the Pembroke lawyer who was on the phone with Natsis — to be allowed to testify.

Justice Neil Kozloff is expected on Thursday to rule on that request and on what portions of the conversation can be discussed in court.