When a jury found Matthew Vincent Raymond not criminally responsible on Friday, two years of court proceedings came to an end, but Raymond’s involvement with the criminal justice system is not over.
With Friday’s verdict Raymond has effectively been put into a different stream of the system, but much of what happens next will be decided at a disposition hearing before Justice Larry Landry on Dec. 11.
“At that hearing, he will decide what Mr. Raymond’s next steps will be and where he’ll be held in custody,” said defence counsel Nathan Gorham.
Raymond was found not criminally responsible by an 11-member jury on four counts of first-degree murder after a 10-week trial. The charges stem from the 2018 shooting of four people including Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright, as well as responding Fredericton police constables Sara Burns and Robb Costello.
It took the jury 25 hours over the course of four days to reach a verdict.
Disposition hearings are reserved for people found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible and gives the court a chance to “make a disposition in respect of the accused.” According to the Criminal Code, a disposition hearing can result in an accused being detained at a hospital, discharged with conditions, or discharged absolutely, but Gorham says it is highly unlikely that Raymond would be released in this circumstance.
“I’ve never heard of a case where the situation like this did not result in a custodial type disposition where he is receiving treatment at a hospital, so we think that the overwhelming likelihood here is that Mr. Raymond will continue to be held in a hospital,” Gorham said.
Raymond is currently being held at the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton, awaiting the hearing. Raymond has been treated by Dr. Ralph Holly at Restigouche previously, once after he was found unfit to stand trial in October 2019 and more recently when he refused to take his medication while awaiting trial this year.
At trial, Holly said he has diagnosed Raymond with schizophrenia. Another doctor testified that he believed Raymond suffers from delusional disorder.
After the hearing, Raymond could be sent back to Restigouche, or to the Shepody Healing Centre, a federal psychiatric facility housed at the Dorchester Penitentiary.
The hearing will also give members of the victim’s families a chance to read victim impact statements, something Jackie McLean, the widow of Costello, says she plans to do. Disposition hearings will continue to take place before the review board, a body set up to evaluate those found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible, each year to examine if Raymond continues to pose a threat to the public.
Families of the victims will be invited to participate each time a hearing is held.
“Because of the not criminally responsible verdict he will be eligible for release at some point and every time those hearings happen, we as the victims’ family have to revisit,” McLean told reporters after the verdict on Friday.
“I want to make sure that this individual doesn’t have the opportunity to hurt anybody ever again. That’s the most important thing.”
Gorham refused to speculate on how long he thinks Raymond could remain in custody but says he doesn’t expect Raymond to be released any time soon.
“One of the misconceptions about the mental health system is that somebody who’s found not criminally responsible will be released quickly back out into the public in a way that jeopardizes public safety. I don’t think that’s actually true,” he said.
“I think what will happen here is that the process will play itself out in a meaningful way so he won’t be released until he’s no longer a threat to the public.”