A B.C. Supreme Court judge in Nanaimo has found a man guilty of all charges in a 2015 accident that claimed the life of a Ladysmith woman.
Dustin Dennis Zinter, 40 when he was charged in November 2016, was involved in a head-on collision on Yellow Point Road Nov. 10, 2015, when the Dodge pickup he was driving hit a smaller Toyota pickup driven by Heidi Barbara Plato, 51, killing her.
Zinter pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failure to provide a breath sample, but Judge Robin Baird found him guilty on all three counts on Monday, July 23.
Zinter fired Stephen Taylor, his legal counsel June 22, after Nick Barber, Crown counsel, had presented his case and ultimately chose to represent himself.
Among Crown’s evidence was an accident reconstruction report stating that Zinter’s vehicle was in Plato’s lane, and witness accounts, some who said they smelled alcohol on Zinter’s breath. The accused, during his defence, refuted those claims, questioning the report, but Baird stated in his verdict that Zinter and counsel didn’t challenge RCMP reconstructionist, Amanda Curwin, when she testified.
Zinter said Plato had actually been the one who veered into his lane, which Baird called “wishful thinking.”
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Zinter denied drinking before the accident, instead saying he drank after, and he was not hiding in a ditch, as witnesses had claimed, but rather sitting down. He denied previous statements he made involving the use of his cellphone prior to the accident and said phone records showing numerous calls to his ex-girlfriend were caused by an auto-dialing phone application, something Baird also said he didn’t believe.
Zinter had testified that he didn’t provide a breath sample because he thought he had been asked to provide a blood sample and was being asked too many things at once, but Baird didn’t believe him.
Baird said the police officer showed Zinter the approved breath screening device, complete with its mouthpiece, and showed him how to use it. He held the device to Zinter’s face, and there is no way Zinter could have mistaken it as an attempt to draw blood. As with more or less everything else, Zinter had lied to him, Baird said.
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Unlike other times in the trial, Zinter, wearing dress pants and a white dress shirt, didn’t talk out of turn or interrupt Baird.
Barber said he had no comment on the verdict, but the Crown is seeking a six-year sentence.
Zinter will appear by video on Aug. 27, when it is expected his sentencing date will be set.
A pre-sentence report and a psychological evaluation have been ordered by Baird.