Matthew Raymond, not guilty of murdering 2 constables, 2 people
Will be kept in jail until a judge considers it no longer a public threat
A jury found Matthew Raymond not criminally liable for murdering four Fredericton people two years earlier.
After deliberating for 25 hours over four days, the jury returned the verdict Friday morning.
Raymond, 50, confessed shooting and killing Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright at 237 Brookside Dr., then Fredericton Const. Sara Burns, Const. Robb Costello answered shooting calls on Aug. 10, 2018.
At his appeal, Raymond testified that he thought he was shooting ghosts, not humans, after he became convinced the end times had come.
Two doctors testified to his diagnosis of schizophrenia, and a third diagnosed him with psychotic illness.
Victim family members sobbed as the verdict was read.
Justice Larry Landry warned against outbursts. Burns' relative, sporting a "#FrederictonStrong" tee, ran out of court in tears
Raymond, sporting a navy shirt and black trousers, wiped eyes and nodded.
Shirley Raymond's mother also had tears.
Chief of the Fredericton Police Department, Roger Brown, released a statement after the decision in which he thanked jurors for their time.
"[I] am fully aware that no one has emerged from this situation unscarred," he said in the statement. "It is important that we respect the decision that has been passed down as we move forward."
Jackie McLean, Costello's partner, talked to reporters while keeping a black mask with a blue line around it. She said this isn't the verdict she hoped.
"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' families have to revisit," she said. "We don't ever get the opportunity to pack up our grief and put it away."
Outside the Fredericton Convention Centre, where court was held to ensure physical distance, Raymond's defense counsel, Nathan Gorham, said the conviction relieves his client, but he feels "horribly" for what happened and hates what he did.
"His grief that he's expressed with us has been palpable in a physical sense, almost completely overcome with grief," Gorham said.
He said "may be a long way out in the future" until Raymond is no longer deemed a public threat and released.
McLean said Costello was a pardon supporter, but she's not sure she would channel that to Raymond.
"I'm really struggling with forgiveness for this individual," she said.
Case of delays
The verdict came more than two years after the shooting sending Province shock waves. From the start, the lawsuit was troubled by complications due to fitness-to-stand-trial problems and COVID-19 court closures.
The trial spanned for 10 weeks and featured 44 witnesses from police officers, nurses, psychiatrists, Raymond himself and family members.
The jury was Canada's first selected since the announced COVID-19 pandemic.
The judge praised and excused the 11 jurors for their service.
The Crown argued that the visions of Raymond weren't so serious that he didn't know what he was doing or was wrong. The defense further found out that Raymond wasn't targeting a couple standing by Robichaud's body, changing his rifle to twice the amount of bullets he could carry, barricading his entrance, shooting the victims in the head and abdomen, indicating intent to kill.
Despite Raymond's admission that he killed the four men, the prosecution maintained that he was not criminally guilty because his insanity hindered him from understanding what he was doing or was wrong.
What's the NCR verdict?
Until the jurors started deliberating, Landry told them that holding Raymond not criminally guilty doesn't mean releasing him.
He said Raymond would remain in custody until a hearing to assess his supervision and treatment. The New Brunswick Appeal Board or a judge must hold a hearing within 45 days after the decision.
At the hearing, the judge or board would weigh public safety, Raymond's psychiatric illness, and his transition into society to determine if he is a serious danger to public safety. Victim family members can also read victim impact articles.
Landry scheduled a preliminary hearing date for Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m.
Janet Austin, a law professor at the University of New Brunswick, said in a serious situation that a murderer will be held for a brief period. And if released, the review board should be assured that their prescription and therapy would be successful.
"If you look statistically, most people who are found not criminally responsible and have been released don't reoffend," she added.
Medicines needed during trial
Raymond received mandatory anti-psychotic injections months before and after the trial.
He testified that he just started believing in ghosts last month, but he also claims he heard a child shouting outside his house, "Come out and play, baby," which he translated as the beginning of Armageddon.