Advocate file photo

Advocate file photo

Preliminary hearing set for Walmart shooting suspect

Chase Freed facing second-degree murder and attempted murder charges

A preliminary hearing has been set for next July for a man accused of shooting a Red Deer senior outside a city Walmart last December.

Chase Freed, 19, has been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and several other charges after allegedly shooting and fatally wounding a man and firing at two other people in the parking lot of the south Walmart five days before Christmas.

A five-day preliminary hearing starting on July 12, 2021, was set in Red Deer provincial court on Friday.

Freed appeared through a closed-circuit video link from the Edmonton Remand Centre, where he remains in custody.

Freed’s Calgary defence lawyer, Rory Ziv, has said in previous court appearances that he has been working to resolve the charges against his client without going to trial.

Freed is also charged with flight from police, dangerous driving and theft of a motor vehicle.

Ziv and Crown prosecutor Catherine Gagnon provided no further update on the progress of those talks on Friday. Both appeared through video links and were not in court.

Police said that C.J. “Jim” Williams, 69, and his wife had just left the store, busy with Christmas shoppers, when he was confronted in the parking lot by a masked man armed with a sawed-off semi-automatic rifle.

Williams was shot and fatally wounded.

The alleged shooter jumped into a waiting SUV with a woman at the wheel. As they fled, police allege Freed fired shots at two other bystanders, but missed them both.

The driver, Crystal Maurice, is facing four charges, including accessory after the fact to murder. Her preliminary hearing will take place in May 2021.

Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is enough evidence to take a case to trial.

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