Police officers and paramedics survey the area of a shooting in Fredericton, N.B. on Friday, August 10, 2018. The sister of the man charged with four murders in Fredericton two years ago says she began seeing changes in her brother in early 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keith Minchin

Sister of accused N.B. shooter testifies he said ‘crazy’ things prior to murders

Sister of accused N.B. shooter testifies he said ‘crazy’ things prior to murders

FREDERICTON — The sister of the man charged with four murders in Fredericton two years ago says she began seeing changes in her brother in early 2017.

Patricia — whose last name is being protected by the court — told jurors at his trial Wednesday that her relationship with her brother, Matthew Raymond, was “amicable” in 2015 and 2016.

She said she would see him four or five times a year — at family meals, holidays or birthdays. Patricia got emotional when she told the court Raymond had always remembered her children’s birthdays and that he was the typical uncle.

“He’d be really happy to see them and pick them up in the air,” she said, crying. Raymond wiped his eyes as he listened to his sister’s testimony.

She said he started sending strange emails to her in March 2017. One of them included a petition that related to the federal government, the details of which she didn’t specify. Patricia said she refused to sign and told him, “Please don’t send me this stuff.”

She said he replied with an email stating she needed to “get on board” and that he was “defending our rights.” After that, Patricia said she didn’t speak to him for 13 months. She said she next saw him at their mother’s house in April 2018 when they were preparing the home for sale.

She said Raymond told her he was doing research that would help keep them safe. He also told her about his time biking in the woods. She said she warned him to check his body for ticks, and he responded by telling her that ticks and Lyme disease were hoaxes created by the government.

“What did you think about that?” defence lawyer Nathan Gorham asked.

“The word that comes to mind is just crazy. How can you think like that?” she responded.

Raymond, 50, is on trial for first-degree murder in the Aug. 10, 2018 shooting deaths of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns. The defence admits he shot the victims but says he should be found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

His sister testified that when she heard that the shootings had occurred in the parking lot of the apartment complex where Raymond lived, she thought her brother might have been hurt as opposed to being the shooter.

Gorham asked what went though her mind when she learned that four people were dead and her brother was charged. “People who were shot, and their families,” she replied.

Patricia’s husband Geoff — whose last name is also protected by the court — took the witness stand next. He said Raymond believed the earth was flat and covered by a dome and refused to hear any argument otherwise.

Geoff said Raymond believed in government conspiracies and that airplanes were spraying people with chemicals. “I was concerned for his mental health,” he said.

He said Raymond thought mainstream media were not providing the whole truth and events such as the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in the United States and the April 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan were hoaxes.

Late Wednesday, defence lawyer Alex Pate was back on the stand to testify about meetings be had with Raymond following his arrest and his client’s outbursts during various court appearances.

During the video of a court appearance on Oct. 22, 2018, Raymond is heard saying, “I have evidence to totally exonerate me. I should be found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity.”

The jury was told that Raymond had fired Gorham as his lawyer and the lawyer who replaced him, before getting Gorham back to represent him.

The jury was played audio from a number of meetings between the lawyers and Raymond when he would complain about the court process and the judge and not let the lawyers talk to him or get direction on how he wanted to proceed.

Pate is expected back on the witness stand when the trial continues Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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