The arresting RCMP officer in a case of impaired driving causing death found the accused argumentative and uncooperative, Supreme Court in Charlottetown heard Tuesday.
'He looked like he was steadying himself in the doorway.' — RCMP Const. Chad Cormier
Ray Cantelo is accused in the death of Stacy Cheverie, who died when the motorcycle she was a passenger on was struck at the intersection of Peakes and St. Patricks roads in eastern P.E.I. on Oct. 22, 2011.
RCMP Const. Chad Cormier told the court he found what he believed to be the white van involved in the accident at 4:30 p.m., about 40 minutes after the collision.
Cormier testified he could smell liquor on Cantelo when he answered the door, and his speech was slurred.
"I remember thinking I'm not quite sure what he's saying," said Cormier.
"He looked like he was steadying himself in the doorway."
Cormier arrested Cantelo and took him to the cruiser to read him the charter. As he read Cantelo talked over him, Cormier testified. Then he reached into the front seat and grabbed the paper from Cormier's hand.
An audio tape recorded during the arrest was played for the court.
"You don't have me for impaired," Cantelo is heard to say.
"I'm going to fight this all the way. I'm going to hire the best lawyer."
Cantelo initially resisted giving a breath sample, Cormier testified, but eventually relented. Two samples were taken at the RCMP detachment in Montague: one at 7 p.m. and one at 7:21 p.m.
However, in a videotaped police interview Cantelo gave that day, he tells police he drank alcohol to calm his nerves after the crash.
Not impaired, defence suggests
Cantelo's defence suggested Tuesday the defendant was not drunk at the time of the accident.
'It was just the slurred words that made me think he was drinking.' — Winnifred Murphy
The court heard Tuesday morning from Winnifred Murphy, who testified she has known Cantelo for three years and they are involved in a relationship. Since the accident they have been living together.
Murphy told the court she had thought Cantelo was drunk earlier that day. At 2:30 p.m. she returned from a walk with a friend and found Cantelo was slurring his words. She was upset because she thought he had been drinking, and she told him so.
Murphy said she had never known Cantelo to drink and drive, and she was upset because they were supposed to go out that night and she thought she would have to drive herself.
Upset about election
Under cross-examination, defence lawyer Brenda Picard presented another possible reason Cantelo was slurring his words that day.
Picard suggested Cantelo sometimes slurs his words when he is agitated. Murphy testified she had heard Cantelo slur his words since the accident at times that he was not drinking.
Cantelo was a failed candidate for the Island Party in the October 2011 election. Murphy told the court he was disappointed more people had not supported him.
"Does he like to talk politics?" Picard asked.
"Oh, yes," said Murphy. "He talks quite fast at those times."
"Was he talking politics with your friend that day?"
Murphy said she had not smelled any alcohol on Cantelo during that conversation.
"No," said Murphy. "It was just the slurred words that made me think he was drinking."
Testimony at the trial will continue Wednesday.