FREDERICTON — The hearing to determine if Matthew Raymond is fit to stand trial on four counts of first-degree murder will go to the jury on Friday.
Raymond, is accused of killing Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns and civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright outside an apartment complex on the north side of the city on Aug. 10, 2018.
A jury of four men and eight women began to hear evidence Wednesday to determine the 49-year-old Fredericton man’s fitness — whether he understands the charges and can instruct a lawyer on how to defend him.
The jury heard from Alex Pate, an articling student who works for defence lawyer Nathan Gorham.
Gorham also played a number of audio recordings and read the report of forensic psychiatrist Julian Gojer, before calling another forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Scott Woodside of Toronto, to the stand.
Woodside spent about 10 hours with Raymond — conducting assessments in November 2018, March 2019 and on Sept. 6 of this year.
The details of the testimony are under a publication ban.
Outside the court, Woodside said he had done thousands of fitness assessments and been involved in between 100 and 150 murder cases.
He would not speak directly about the Raymond case but said the determination of fitness is made after asking a series of basic questions, including whether the accused knows what charges they face and what the plea options are.
“We ask them what’s the worst thing that can happen if you get convicted, meaning what’s the worst sentence. We also ask them about who’s in court and what are their jobs,” he said.
“If you’ve seen any TV show involving the courtroom, you probably have a pretty good idea about all those questions, so you have to be quite unwell to struggle with those types of questions.”
Earlier in the day, Gorham spoke to reporters outside the court about the significance of the fitness hearing, calling it “incredibly important.”
“In Canadian law, any time there’s reasonable grounds to believe that a person is unfit, a judge can order a fitness trial. That ensures that the person is able to participate in their defence in a meaningful and fair way. So this is a very important safeguard in Canadian law,” Gorham said.
Justice Fred Ferguson of the Court of Queen’s Bench agreed to the fitness hearing last month following an application by Gorham. Gorham stressed it is not a delay tactic or a defence.
“All this does is allow us to get Mr. Raymond treatment either on a voluntary or involuntary basis if there is a finding of unfitness, and then the trial can go ahead,” he said.
The lawyers are expected to give their final statements Friday morning before Justice Ferguson gives his charge to the jury and deliberations begin.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2019.