The fitness trial for Matthew Raymonds began Wednesday afternoon with a newly chosen jury.
Earlier in the day, the last four jurors were chosen, making up a full panel of 12.
Justice Larry Landry instated a temporary publication ban on everything that takes place during the hearing, which is to continue Thursday.
Jury selection started Monday at the Fredericton Convention Centre and ended Wednesday morning.
Raymond was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Fredericton police constables Sara Burns and Robb Costello and civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright.
Monday marked the beginning of the first jury selection in the country to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic. This jury pool was exceptionally small to maintain physical distancing — just about 100 people.
Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham previously said he's concerned about what will happen if the pool runs out and the jurors weren't all selected. The final juror was selected with four people remaining in the pool.
The court conducted a separate pre-screening to excuse people with valid reasons for not sitting on the jury, and about 70 people were excused last week. Despite this, over the last three days, more than 40 people were excused for various reasons.
With all the all the extra items that we had to take into consideration, such as a physical distancing, the PPE gear for citizens that come into our buildings … I think that's something that's gonna be the norm moving forward - George Oram, head sheriff
If he's found fit, Raymond can choose to keep this jury or get a new one for the criminal trial set for Sept. 15.
He was found unfit to stand trial last fall after his lawyer said his mental state was preventing him from communicating with him and building a defence.
Fitness to stand trial is different from criminal responsibility. Fitness deals with the current mental state of an accused, and whether they can understand the court process and their defence, not their state of mind during an alleged crime.
A template for the future
This jury selection has been a complicated puzzle for court staff in Fredericton. Because of COVID-19, staff had to depend on experience and the flexibility of the court.
Regional Sheriff George Oram said the biggest unknown in planning a jury selection during COVID-19 is how things were going to unfold. Now that the first jury has been chosen, courts have a roadmap.
"With all the all the extra items that we had to take into consideration such as a physical distancing, the PPE gear for citizens that come into our buildings ... I think that's something that's gonna be the norm moving forward," he said.
The court had to monitor how many people would answer the summons. They also had to make sure the pool is big enough to find 12 impartial jurors while still making sure they don't exceed the 150-person capacity of the largest room they have.
"The clerk of the court and I kept a very close eye, over the course the process, on the the return of juror summonses," he said. "We basically monitored it on a daily basis to ensure that there was an adequate number that we're going to appear on the day of jury selection."
He said like all other jury selections, he feels positive about how this one went.
"A lot of effort a lot of staff hours goes into this," he said.