A man accused of gunning down a shopper outside a Red Deer Walmart just before Christmas 2019 and firing at two others will not go to trial until 2022.
Chase Freed has been charged with second-degree murder accused of fatally shooting C.J. “Jim” Williams, 69, outside Red Deer’s south Walmart at about 6:45 p.m. Dec. 20, 2019.
RCMP allege that Freed, who was then 18, then jumped into a waiting SUV and fired shots from a sawed-off semi-automatic rifle at two bystanders as he fled.
Freed is also facing two counts of attempted murder and flight from police.
The accused appeared in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday morning through a video link with the Edmonton Remand Centre.
A 19-day trial was confirmed that will run June 6-30 in 2022. A five-day preliminary hearing had originally been scheduled to run this July.
Crown prosecutors have opted to proceed by direct indictment, which means Freed will not get a preliminary hearing and his case will go straight to trial.
RCMP said Williams and his wife had just left Walmart, busy with Christmas shoppers, when he was confronted in the parking lot by a masked man armed with a semi-automatic rifle.
Williams was shot and fatally wounded. Bystanders and RCMP performed CPR on Williams until an ambulance arrived to take him to Red Deer’s hospital, where he died soon after.
A search was launched for Freed and a woman who was seen driving the SUV.
Several hours later, police tracked down the two suspects, now in separate trucks, and stopped them near Highway 11A, close to Sylvan Lake.
Crystal Maurice was arrested in the vehicle and Freed was arrested after a short foot chase.
Maurice, who was 30 at the time of her arrest, 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.
A preliminary hearing for Maurice is scheduled for next month.