Accused Fredericton shooter Matthew Raymond will stand trial Sept. 30

The Fredericton man accused in the shooting deaths of two city police officers and two other citizens last summer will stand trial Sept. 30.

Matthew Vincent Raymond, 48, who is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, made his first appearance in Court of Queen's Bench on Wednesday afternoon.

He will not enter any pleas until his jury trial begins. It's scheduled to last eight weeks.

The results of two psychiatric assessments Raymond underwent to determine if he is criminally responsible remain sealed.

Raymond is accused of killing Fredericton Police Force constables Robb Costello, 45, and Sara Burns, 43, and civilians Donnie Robichaud, 42, and Bobbi Lee Wright, 32, last Aug.10.

Police have said all four victims were hit by bullets from a long gun fired from the third storey of an apartment building on Brookside Drive on the city's north side.

Investigations by Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team and WorkSafeNB are continuing, the courtroom heard.

I think in most cases it's not possible for people to make assumptions about what will or will not happen. - Alison Ménard, defence lawyer

Outside the courthouse, defence lawyer Alison Ménard said the public should not presume how Raymond will plead.

"People can change their plea or enter a guilty plea all the way through the process," she told reporters.

"I think in most cases it's not possible for people to make assumptions about what will or will not happen. Everything will take place in the court environment."

Asked what role her client's psychiatric assessment report will play, Ménard said: "I think it's an element of evidence and information that I guess, you know, he'll have to make some decisions about as he moves forward."

Catherine Harrop/CBC

Justice Fred Ferguson, who is based in Miramichi, will preside over the trial.

Crown prosecutor Darlene Blunston said she expects the Crown's case will take about 6½ weeks to present.

Ménard said she's still waiting to hear from legal aid whether she will continue to represent Raymond.

A pre-trial conference will be held next week, tentatively Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. if Ménard remains on the case.

Two weeks have been set aside in June for voir dire hearings to determine the admissibility of certain evidence.

Ferguson said all of the proceedings will be held in Fredericton, even if spring flooding closes the courthouse.​​​​​​

The accused must be present for all of them, he said, as Raymond looked on from the prisoner's box. He wore shackles and the same jail-issued orange shirt and pants as his previous appearances in provincial court, but his greying beard is now shaven.

Earlier this month, the Crown filed for a direct indictment to send Raymond's case straight to trial in the Court of Queen's Bench without a preliminary inquiry in provincial court.

Normally, a preliminary inquiry is held to determine if there is enough evidence to send a case to trial in the higher court.

Last December, provincial court Judge Julian Dickson ordered a 60-day psychiatric assessment to determine if Raymond was criminally responsible for his actions.

The assessment took longer than expected and in February Dickson ordered an additional 30 days.

The purpose of such an assessment is to determine whether an accused, at the time of an alleged offence, suffered from a mental disorder that would exempt them from responsibility.

"In certain circumstances, people who suffer from a mental disorder — an example would be somebody detached from reality who has a psychotic episode of some sort — those people are considered to be not criminally responsible for the action because they are lacking the intentional element of the offence because of the mental disorder," Ménard has said.

Raymond was previously deemed fit to stand trial.