A Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench trial is set to start on June 7, 2022 at Baymont Inn and Suites for Chase Freed, who is facing charges of second-degree murder, criminal flight from police and two counts of attempted murder for fatally wounding a man and shooting at two other people outside Red Deer’s south Walmart on Dec. 20, 2019. (Advocate file photo)

A Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench trial is set to start on June 7, 2022 at Baymont Inn and Suites for Chase Freed, who is facing charges of second-degree murder, criminal flight from police and two counts of attempted murder for fatally wounding a man and shooting at two other people outside Red Deer’s south Walmart on Dec. 20, 2019. (Advocate file photo)

Trial to start Tuesday for man accused in 2019 Red Deer Walmart shooting

Jury selection took place on Monday for trial at Baymont Inn and Suites

Jury selection began on Monday morning for the trial of a man accused of gunning down a shopper outside a Red Deer Walmart shortly before Christmas in 2019.

Chase Freed, 20, is on trial for second-degree murder in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench for allegedly shooting C.J. (Jim) Williams, 69, in front of his wife during an attempted robbery on Dec. 20, 2019 outside the south Red Deer Walmart.

Freed is also facing a charge of criminal flight from police and two charges of attempted murder for allegedly shooting at bystanders in the parking lot as he fled the scene in an SUV driven by Crystal Lee Maurice. The trial is set to run until June 30.

RCMP said Williams and his wife had just left Walmart, busy with Christmas shoppers, when he was confronted around 6:45 p.m. in the parking lot by a masked man armed with a sawed-off 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.

RCMP immediately launched a widespread search for Freed and Maurice. Several hours later, police tracked down the two suspects, now in separate trucks, and stopped them near Highway 11A, close to Sylvan Lake.

Maurice was arrested in the vehicle and Freed was arrested after a short chase on foot.

Freed’s trial is taking place at Red Deer’s Baymont Inn and Suites. Since the pandemic, jury trials have been held at local hotels to allow for jury members to physically distance themselves and observe any other health protocols in place. Masks are still required in courtrooms.

Dozens of potential jury members were gathered in a hotel conference room on Monday morning. Sixteen people, 12 jurors and four alternates, were to be selected.

The process got off to a slow start with Justice Eric Macklin alerting the gathering shortly after 10 a.m. that jury selection would be delayed about 90 minutes to sort out an unspecified issue. Jurors were asked to remain in their seats, except for washroom breaks.

“I know it’s a great deal to ask,” said Macklin. “I greatly appreciate your patience.”

Maurice pleaded guilty to vehicle theft and evading police in December 2021 and was ordered by a judge to serve a 12-month conditional sentence order, which includes three months of house arrest followed by nine months of curfew. She was also prohibited from driving for a year.

The judge also sentenced Maurice to six months in prison, satisfied by time already served in custody, for stealing the SUV of a woman who met Maurice at a gas station on Dec. 19. The woman suspected Maurice was homeless and welcomed her into her home where she lived with her children.

While there, she stole the woman’s car keys and took her vehicle.

The judge said he took into account in sentencing that Maurice, then-32, was not directly involved in the shooting and that she was co-operative with police.



News tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

RCMP outside Red Deer's south Walmart after a man was shot and fatally wounded on Dec. 20, 2019. Chase Freed is on trial in Red Deer for the second-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal flight from police. (Advocate file photo)