Before illness, N.B. shooter 'wouldn't hurt a fly,' doctor says as testimony wraps

·3 min read

FREDERICTON — A psychiatrist testified Friday that the man accused of shooting to death four people in Fredericton two years ago was quiet, docile and “wouldn’t hurt a fly” until mental illness plunged him into delusions of a world populated by demons.

Dr. Julian Gojer, an Ontario psychiatrist, was the final witness to testify at the trial of Matthew Raymond, who is charged with the first-degree murder of four people, including two city police officers, on Aug. 10, 2018.

Raymond, 50, has pleaded not guilty although he has admitted to the shootings. His defence team is arguing he should be found not criminally responsible because a mental disorder left him incapable of appreciating that his actions were wrong.

Gojer, a witness for the defence, said he believes Raymond was delusional when he shot a man and a woman in the parking lot of a Fredericton apartment building and two of the city police officers who responded to help.

"He clearly did not understand the wrongfulness of his actions based on his delusions," Gojer said under cross-examination by the prosecution. The psychiatrist told the court Raymond thought he was doing God's work by killing demons.

The Crown contends the victims were targeted.

The mass shooting took the lives of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns. During the subsequent police action, Raymond was shot in the stomach by a police officer. He has recovered from his injuries and is being treated with antipsychotic medications to control his illness.

On Friday, the final day of testimony in a trial that has lasted eight weeks, Raymond sat impassively in the witness box in a Fredericton conference-room-turned-courtroom where attendees are able to physically distance.

Gojer told the court Raymond suffers from schizophrenia and had been experiencing bizarre delusions for the last three years. But he said Raymond is not a psychopath -- a narcissist who doesn’t care about people. He believes Raymond is psychotic, someone who has lost touch with reality.

“This is a quiet, docile man, someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Gojer told the court. “This is a man who has no prior criminal record and who was kind to people and animals.”

Gojer was one of three psychiatrists called by the defence who testified that Raymond had a serious mental illness that caused the delusions.

During the trial, the court was shown hundreds of pictures and video files from Raymond's computer showing he had been following conspiracy theories, had protested against federal immigration policy and believed God had given him the power to detect demons. They also showed he had bought guns and isolated himself from his family and friends.

Raymond testified he believed it was the end of times, and that everyone around him was a demon and he needed to defend himself.

He described how he shot the four victims but believed he actually shot a total of seven "demons" when he also fired at movement in windows of other apartments in the complex. In fact, he did not shoot anyone else.

The lawyers will give final arguments next week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2020.

Chris Morris, The Canadian Press