RCMP locked down the south-end Walmart on the evening of Dec. 20 after a shooting that left a 69-year-old Red Deer man dead. Red Deer Advocate file photo

Alleged getaway driver in Walmart fatal shooting granted bail

Crystal Maurice was released but must stay in drug treatment and sober living facilities

A woman accused of driving the getaway car following a fatal shooting at a Red Deer Walmart in December has been granted bail with strict release conditions.

Crystal Lee Maurice, 30, is facing charges of accessory after the fact to murder, flight from police, dangerous driving and vehicle theft in connection with the Dec. 20, 2019, shooting that left a city man dead.

It is alleged that Maurice was driving the SUV that accused gunman Chase Freed, 18, jumped in after C.J. (Jim) Williams was shot at around 6:45 p.m.

Maurice was in Red Deer Court of Queens Bench on Thursday for a bail hearing.

Her defence lawyer, Andrew Phypers, and Red Deer chief Crown prosecutor Dominique Mathurin outlined the release plan for Maurice to Justice Monica Bast.

On release, Maurice must immediately go to a sober living facility, where she will be under a 24-hour curfew. Staff will pick her up from the remand centre and take her straight there.

She will remain there before moving to a treatment centre for her drug addiction. Following treatment there, she will return to a sober living facility, where she will remain under 24-hour curfew.

Should she try to leave her sober living and treatment facilities without permission, her probation officer and RCMP will be immediately notified.

Mathurin told the judge “the family of the deceased is aware of what we’re doing today.”

“Good,” said Bast, who granted bail with a $500 no-cash deposit, plus the conditions.

Outside the courtroom, Mathurin acknowledged that granting bail to people accused of serious crimes often provokes emotional and angry reactions from victims’ families, their supporters and other community members.

Crown prosecutors’ responsibility is to oppose release unless a case can be made why bail is appropriate, she said.

Maurice, like all accused, is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

And while the public sometimes feels a case is open and shut, and guilt is obvious, the justice system views cases differently.

“These are always difficult decisions, because you want to reflect what the public sees as right,” she said.

But if given a good release plan, Crown prosecutors must consider the circumstances in each case.

“With all of this, the underlying problem is consumption of drugs,” said Mathurin.

When off drugs, the likelihood of Maurice getting into the trouble with the law again is low.

“We believe we’ve taken everything into account (in her bail conditions).

“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to prosecute.”

Freed remains in custody and net returns to court on March 31. He has been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, flight from police, dangerous driving and theft of a motor vehicle.

It is alleged Freed fired at two other bystanders with a sawed-off semi-automatic rifle as he fled the scene.

Maurice and Freed were tracked down by police several hours later near Sylvan Lake. Maurice was arrested in a stolen vehicle.

Freed, who was in a second stolen vehicle by that time, was arrested after a short foot chase.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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