Criminal trial date set for accused Fredericton shooter

The judge has set a criminal trial date for the man accused of shooting two police officers and two civilians in the summer of 2018.

Matthew Vincent Raymond, 50, will first have to go through a jury fitness hearing. If he's found fit, he will stand trial Sept. 28. at 9:30 a.m. on four counts of first-degree murder.

Justice Fred Ferguson of the New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench previously ruled he will allow Raymond to have the same jury for the fitness hearing, scheduled Aug. 17 at the Fredericton Convention Centre, as for the criminal trial.

On Tuesday, Ferguson said that if Raymond is found fit, he can choose to disband the jury and get a new one for his trial.

The five weeks between the fitness hearing and the trial will make it possible to get a new jury if Raymond chooses to do that, the judge said.

Raymond has been in custody since August 2018, when a shooting ended in the deaths of Rob Costello and Sara Burns, both constables with the Fredericton Police Force, and Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright of Fredericton.

The court previously heard fitness to stand trial isn't about criminal responsibility. Fitness has to do with an accused person's current state of mind and whether they can understand the justice system. Criminal responsibility deals with the accused's state of mind during an alleged crime.

The jury chosen for Aug. 17 will have to decide if Raymond's mental illness, after mandatory medication, is under control enough for him to begin going through the criminal trial.

Raymond has made more than 30 Court of Queen's Bench appearances since his case began, including one fitness hearing where he was found unfit to stand trial.

All of the recent hearings, excluding the fitness trial, have dealt with pre-trial issues such as admissibility of evidence, scheduling conflicts, and most recently, adapting to the COVID-19 safety measures while still making sure the case is moving forward.