Hearing for man accused of killing four people in Fredericton in doubt

A proposed jury trial to determine whether a Fredericton man accused of killing two police officers and two civilians can be tried in court may be aborted because his lawyer says the accused may once again be mentally unfit.

Matthew Raymond is accused of killing Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns, as well as civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright, on Aug. 10, 2018.

Last October, a jury found Raymond unfit to stand trial. But since that ruling the accused killer has received medical treatment and psychiatrists have stated they believe the suspect can be put on trial.

A jury is scheduled to be chosen March 16 for what Court of Queen’s Bench Judge Fred Ferguson calls a “re-fitness trial.”

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham told the court Friday his client may once again be unfit, adding the defence might be unable to offer a final determination until the day of the hearing.

“We will make a decision on March 15 and 16 as to our position on fitness,” he told the court. “Fitness is an assessment that has to be done at the time of the hearing or application.”

Crown Prosecutor Darlene Blunston expressed frustration with Gorham’s position, saying she can’t prepare without knowing the defence’s opinion.

“The Crown is happy to proceed on the 16th but we cannot do so without knowing what evidence will be presented,” she said.

Gorham said fitness “waxes and wanes.” Had the hearing been held Friday, Gorham said, he would not think Raymond was fit.

Fitness to stand trial means an accused understands the charges, the role of the court, and can communicate with their lawyer.

On a number of occasions Friday, Raymond told court he doesn’t intend to take the drugs he’s been prescribed.

Judge Ferguson said a lot of time has passed since the four murders, and the lawyers need to work together.

“We are working our ways towards two years since Mr. Raymond was taken into custody and we are still not at the trial,” he said. “Four families lost members and I never, nor will … anybody else connected with this case ever give them closure.

“But what modicum of closure we can give them, we owe it to them, as we owe it to Mr. Raymond to try him within a reasonable length of time.”

The judge has scheduled another pre-trial conference for March 13 to provide time to call off the jury selection if necessary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2020.


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