Judge loses patience with Nanaimo man representing himself in fatal crash case

Dustin Dennis Zinter cross examined by Crown counsel in B.C. Supreme Court

The trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo of Dustin Dennis Zinter, charged with dangerous driving causing death, moved into its later stages Friday.

Allegations against Zinter stem from a head-on collision on Yellow Point Road on Nov. 10, 2015, between Zinter’s pickup truck and a Toyota pickup driven by Heidi Barbara Plato, 51, of Ladysmith, who died at the scene.

Zinter, 40 at the time he was charged, representing himself after he fired his lawyer Stephen Taylor, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing death, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and refusing to provide breath or blood samples to police.

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Zinter faced cross examination by Crown counsel Nick Barber, based on evidence consisting of RCMP crash analysis and statements from emergency personnel that included RCMP officers, firefighters, B.C. Ambulance Service and a resident who lives near the collision site.

Zinter countered by refuting all evidence presented by the Crown, saying that it was possible that Plato’s vehicle had swerved into his lane and the impact of the collision carried the vehicles into Plato’s lane. Zinter also continued to assert he was confused and disoriented following the crash, that he had not been drinking before the crash, only afterward and that he did not attempt to flee the scene.

At one point during the cross examination, Barber asked Zinter if he recalled saying he would have provided a breath sample if he had known someone died in the crash.

“Why would you have give a breath sample if you knew someone had died?” Barber asked.

“Because I’m an honest person,” Zinter said.

Before moving into closing arguments, Judge Robin Baird offered Zinter the time to do further legal research or consultation with a lawyer to better prepare his final argument because he was representing himself.

Zinter, who has been in custody since he failed to appear for a court date June 28, asked to be allowed to return to his home office over the weekend.

Baird said he would not change Zinter’s bail conditions, to which Zinter continued to argue, saying he hadn’t had proper sleep or shower or “proper food in three days” and asked what point there was in taking the weekend if he couldn’t be allowed to go home to prepare himself, at which point the judge appeared to lose patience.

“I’m asking you a straightforward question,” Baird said, raising his voice. “Do you want some time to consider your summation, to take legal advice or to do legal research? That’s the question I’m asking. What’s the answer?”

Zinter decided to proceed. The Crown will finish presenting its closing argument and Zinter will present his when the trial resumes Friday, July 20.



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