Jury selection almost complete for fitness hearing in Fredericton murder case

FREDERICTON — Jury selection will continue into a third day Wednesday in the hearing to determine if a Fredericton man is fit to stand trial on four counts of first-degree murder.

Matthew Raymond, 49, is accused of killing Fredericton police constables Sara Burns and Robb Costello and civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright outside a Fredericton apartment complex in August 2018.

Fitness means that an accused understands the charges against them and can instruct a lawyer on how they wish to be defended.

About 800 people were registered Monday at a Fredericton hockey rink, and on Tuesday almost 60 were questioned at the Fredericton courthouse in an effort to get a jury of 12 people and two alternates.

By the end of the day Tuesday, four men and eight women had been chosen to sit on the jury. Two alternates will be chosen Wednesday before the court begins hearing evidence.

The exact details of the selection process, including the questions being asked of the potential jurors, are subject to a publication ban.

The Crown and defence lawyers are each allowed up to 22 peremptory challenges, which allow lawyers to reject potential jurors without stating a reason. So far the Crown has used seven peremptory challenges while the defence has used two.

The large number of potential jurors was necessary because the murders were so highly publicized. Monday was originally intended to be the start of the actual trial, but Justice Fred Ferguson of the New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench ruled earlier this month that the threshold to question fitness of the accused had been met.

On Monday, Raymond was removed from the makeshift courtroom when he continued to talk loudly while the proceedings were underway. He was taken to a separate room with a video link where he could view the proceedings.

Raymond is alleged to have fired from his apartment window with a long gun, killing the two civilians as they loaded a car for a trip and the two police officers as they responded to the scene.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2019.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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