Psychiatrist says Fredericton mass murder was caused by actions of 'deranged' man

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FREDERICTON — A psychiatrist who diagnosed the Fredericton mass shooter as schizophrenic told jurors Thursday it was sad that four people were killed because of a "deranged" man.

Dr. Julian Gojer, on his second day testifying at Matthew Raymond's murder trial, told the court the accused lacked the capacity to know that murdering four people was wrong. 

"He was acting from a totally deranged perspective," Gojer said. "It's a very sad situation. Four innocent people lost their lives because of the actions of a deranged man."

Raymond, 50, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns in the parking lot of an apartment complex in August 2018.

The defence admits he killed the victims but is trying to prove he should be found not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder.

Gojer said Raymond had bizarre delusions about religion and about being able to identify people as demons. The doctor said he began seeing Raymond shortly after the shootings but the accused wouldn't talk about his belief in demons until October 2020 -- following anti-psychotic treatment.

Gojer said he reviewed all the evidence in the case and concluded Raymond was suffering from a "mosaic of delusions." He said starting March 2017, Raymond's perception of the world was unreal.

The doctor said for people with schizophrenia, delusions become like a filter preventing the person from seeing reality. Gojer said that around 2018, he thought Raymond was becoming increasingly psychotic. "It was a mind that snapped," Gojer told jurors.

Jurors have been shown evidence throughout the trial indicating Raymond believed everyone around him were demons and that he needed to defend himself. Gojer said if Raymond believed he was shooting demons then he wouldn't have been able to appreciate his actions and would have believed he was morally justified defending himself.

On cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Darlene Blunston asked Gojer if his evidence had ever been rejected by a court or criticized. The defence objected, resulting in a lengthy delay as lawyers held discussions without the jury present.

When the jury returned, Justice Larry Landry of the Court of Queen's Bench told jurors the Crown's questions were irrelevant and misleading.

"I am directing you, as a matter of law, to disregard the questions and answers thus far in the cross-examination," Landry told the 11 jurors.

Blunston will continue her cross-examination Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2020.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press