Accused Fredericton shooter Matthew Raymond found fit to stand trial on murder charges

Click to play video: 'Accused Fredericton shooter Matthew Raymond found fit to stand trial on murder charges'
Accused Fredericton shooter Matthew Raymond found fit to stand trial on murder charges
WATCH: A jury has found a man accused of killing four people in Fredericton two years ago fit to stand trial. Matthew Vincent Raymond is expected to face the murder charges in less than a month, as long as he remains fit as a result of involuntary treatment. Callum Smith reports – Aug 20, 2020

Matthew Vincent Raymond is expected to stand trial next month on four counts of first-degree murder after a jury found him fit to stand trial Thursday.

A jury heard testimony during Raymond’s fitness trial, which started Wednesday afternoon.

The fitness trial determines if the accused can follow court proceedings and conduct a defence, or instruct his lawyers on how to proceed in a criminal trial. This trial deals with the “here and now” of Raymond’s health; it has no representation of his condition at the time of the alleged crime.

Raymond is accused of the shooting deaths of Bobbi-Lee Wright, Donnie Robichaud and responding Fredericton police officers Sara Burns and Robb Costello on Aug. 10, 2018.

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The jury, consisting of 12 people, heard evidence called by the defence Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

A previously-imposed publication ban was lifted because the accused chose to maintain the same jury for his upcoming criminal trial, so they’ve already been exposed to the evidence that was heard in court.

The defence called two people to testify in the case.

In video testimony Wednesday, the court heard from Dr. Ralph Holly, a psychiatrist at the Restigouche Regional Hospital Centre in Campbellton, N.B., where Raymond had previously been sent for treatment. He is currently in the Saint John jail.

One of Holly’s roles at the hospital is to see patients who need a court-ordered evaluation of their fitness.

The psychiatrist testified that the accused lives with schizophrenia. He explained that delusions and disorganized speech are two contributing factors to his diagnosis.

Holly testified that in October 2019, Raymond’s mental disorder prevented him from communicating with his lawyer, thus not allowing him to provide feedback to the lawyer’s legal advice. A jury found him unfit to stand trial.

“He said the lawyer was working against him… working with the judge,” court heard from Holly. “He was not able to give his lawyer rational and logical facts because he would jump from one subject to another.”

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Click to play video: 'Fredericton, police force mark 2 years since shooting'
Fredericton, police force mark 2 years since shooting

Between October 2019 and this court appearance, he has received involuntary anti-psychotic medication.

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Raymond initially hired Nathan Gorham of Gorham Vandebeek LLP to represent him. But he fired Gorham and eventually hired Alison Ménard to represent him.

The accused then dismissed Ménard and re-hired Gorham in July 2019.

Thursday morning, the defence team called Alex Pate, a member of the defence team, to testify.

He provided details to the jury about the difference in Raymond’s interactions with his defence team between July of 2019 and the current time.

Pate met with Raymond at the Saint John jail several times in late July and the first two days of August.

“During those meetings, I listened to him as he told me about various grievances he had with a number of people,” he said.

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The recently-recused Justice Fred Ferguson was the first person Pate listed.

Raymond had previously been forced to be in a separate room outside of the courtroom because he caused interruptions during his hearings.

“[Raymond] thought that was a violation of his rights,” Pate testified. “Mr. Raymond told me that Justice Ferguson was also making disparaging remarks directed at him. He also told me that Justice Ferguson had filed some form of formal document that had put Mr. Raymond’s life at jeopardy.”

Pate says he was never able to determine what document Raymond could’ve been referring to, and the accused was unable to elaborate.

In Pate’s testimony, he said Raymond believed Ménard was a “spy” or “mole” and was working against him.

“[Raymond] connected her with Justice Ferguson in some way,” he testified.
Click to play video: 'Judge has mistrial concerns over Matthew Vincent Raymond murder charges'
Judge has mistrial concerns over Matthew Vincent Raymond murder charges

Pate described Raymond’s demeanour as “angry” and “upset” and at times he became so angry that guards intervened between their meetings in the interview room.

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Other times, “[guards and Raymond] would be screaming back and forth at each other,” Pate said.
“[Raymond] to me that there was a hitman in the jail,” Pate testified. “He explained to me that this hitman had been moved from the medium-security to the maximum-security area of the jail and that someone had deliberately facilitated this.”

Again, Pate said Raymond couldn’t offer details or elaborate upon those thoughts.

The accused also raised concerns about how he was treated by staff at the jail.

“He was extremely upset with the jail staff there, he explained that they had repeatedly assaulted him, they were throwing muffins at him,” Pate testified of Raymond’s version of events.

None of these allegations have been tested in court; the testimony was used to describe Raymond’s fitness. But Pate was unable to substantiate many of the claims Raymond had previously made.

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The only two possible verdicts for the jury on Thursday were whether Raymond was fit or unfit to stand trial.

“Both the Crown and the defence are saying that they are of the opinion, they agree their position is that Matthew Raymond is now fit to stand trial,” Landry told the jury.

“To find Matthew Raymond fit to stand trial, you must be convinced on a balance of probabilities. This means that it is more likely than not that Matthew Raymond is fit. It does not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The judge said jurors must decide whether they completely, partially or don’t believe the testimony in the trial.

The jury found Raymond fit to stand trial. It is expected to begin on Sept. 15.

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