A sentencing hearing is expected to begin today for the woman who drove while impaired, crashed into a truck and killed a 50-year-old father of three more than 4½ years ago.
Christy Natsis was convicted of impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death in May this year after a highly publicized trial in Ottawa that lasted nearly three years. She was acquitted of a third charge of exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit.
The level of alcohol in Natsis's blood was nearly 2½ times the legal limit the night her SUV crossed the centre line and slammed head-on into victim Bryan Casey's pickup truck on Highway 17 west of Ottawa in 2011.
But the justice in the case, Neil Kozloff, tossed the breath test evidence after ruling that the arresting officer denied Natsis the right to speak with her lawyer.
The two guilty verdicts were a big victory for Crown prosecutor John Ramsay after the breathalyzer evidence was tossed out.
In his decision, Justice Kozloff called the witnesses in the case 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 responded to the crash.
Hearing scheduled for 3 days
Natsis is appearing this morning at the Superior Court of Justice in Pembroke, Ont., where she lives and has a dental practice while on bail. The sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place over three days.
Defence lawyer Michael Edelson is expected to present a lengthy sentencing submission with several character references of Natsis.
The prosecutor said Casey's widow and father will be in court to present victim impact statements.
Casey died en route to hospital after the crash on the evening of March 31, 2011. He left behind his wife, LeeEllen Carroll, and their three children, who were seven, nine and eleven years old at the time.
"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," Carroll told reporters outside the Ottawa courthouse the day Natsis was found guilty in May.
"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.
Impaired driving causing death convictions for a first-time offender can typically lead to a prison sentence of between three and five years.