A jury has found Matthew Raymond not criminally responsible for the shooting deaths of four Fredericton residents two years ago.
The jury returned the verdict Friday morning after deliberating for about 25 hours over four days.
Raymond, 50, had admitted to shooting and killing Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright from his storage room window at 237 Brookside Dr., then Fredericton Const. Sara Burns and Const. Robb Costello when they responded to calls of shots fired on Aug. 10, 2018.
Family members of the victims sobbed when the verdict was read.
Justice Larry Landry cautioned people against outbursts. A relative of Burns, wearing a “#FrederictonStrong” shirt, ran out of the courtroom in tears
Wearing a navy shirt and black pants, Raymond wiped away tears and nodded.
Raymond’s mother, Shirley Raymond, also wiped tears.
Fredericton Police Force Chief Roger Brown sent a statement a few minutes after the verdict. He thanked the jury for their time.
“[I] am fully aware that no-one has emerged from this situation unscarred,” he said in the statement. “It is important that we respect the decision that has been passed down as we move forward.”
Case plagued by delays
As a witness at his own trial, Raymond testified he believed he was shooting demons, not humans, coming to kill him after he became convinced the end times had come.
Two psychiatrists testified they diagnosed him with schizophrenia, and a third diagnosed him with delusional disorder.
The verdict came more than two years after the shooting sent shockwaves through the province. The case has been plagued by delays since the beginning because of fitness to stand trial issues and COVID-19 court closures.
The trial spanned more 10 weeks and had 44 witnesses, including police officers, nurses, psychiatrists, Raymond himself and members of his family.
The jury was the first chosen in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
Justice Larry Landry thanked the 11 jurors for their service and excused them for the final time.
The Crown argued Raymond’s delusions weren’t so intense that he didn’t know what he was doing or that it was wrong. The Crown pointed out Raymond didn’t shoot a couple standing by Robichaud’s body, that he modified his rifle to double the amount of ammunition it could hold, he barricaded his door, and he shot the victims in the head and chest, which shows intent to kill.
Raymond thought victims were demons
Despite his admission that he killed the four victims, the defence argued he was not criminally responsible because his schizophrenia stopped him from knowing what he was doing or that it was wrong.
He testified he believed he was shooting demons coming to kill him, not humans.
Before the jury began deliberating, Landry told them finding Raymond not criminally responsible does not mean he will be released.
He said Raymond will remain in jail until a hearing is held to determine his supervision and treatment. By law, the New Brunswick Review Board or a judge must hold a hearing within 45 days of the verdict.
At the hearing, the judge or board must consider the safety of the public, Raymond’s mental condition and his integration into society to decide whether he’s a significant threat to public safety. Family members of the victims will also have a chance to read victim impact statements.
Justice Landry has set a tentative date for the hearing for Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m.
Medications required during trial
Landry said Raymond will only be released if and when the review board decides he’s no longer a significant threat to the public.
Raymond had already been receiving mandatory antipsychotic medication injections months before and during the trial.
He testified he only stopped believing in demons last month, and still believed he heard a child outside his window say “Come out and play, baby,” which he interpreted as a sign of Armageddon beginning.