The jury received its final instructions on Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of Matthew Vincent Raymond and will be sequestered until they come to a verdict.
In all, close to nine weeks have passed in what was scheduled to be a four- to six-week trial.
Raymond is accused of four counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Donnie Robichaud, Bobbie Lee Wright and responding Fredericton Police officers Sara Burns and Robb Costello.
The defence has not denied that Raymond was the one to kill all four victims outside his Fredericton apartment building on Aug. 10, 2018, but has said that he is not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder.
Here is a summary of the evidence heard at trial.
Day 1: opening statements and admissions
The trial began on Tuesday, Sept. 15, over two years since the incident. About a dozen family members were present in the makeshift courtroom at the Fredericton Convention Centre.
The charges of four counts of first-degree murder were read to Raymond, who was clean-shaven and wearing a grey shirt and black pants. He answered not guilty to each of the four charges.
Justice Larry Landry began explaining to the jury what it is it would be asked to decide. For all four counts, he explained, there are three elements that must be met to find Raymond guilty: that Raymond committed an unlawful act, that the act resulted in death and that he committed the act with intent.
For civilians Robichaud and Wright, Landry said the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act was planned. For Fredericton Police officers Burns and Costello, the Crown must prove that Raymond knew they were officers of the law acting in their duties.
Landry continued to explain what is involved in a not criminally responsible (NCR) defence. He said the defence must prove that Raymond had a mental disorder at the time of the shooting and that he did not appreciate the nature and quality of his actions, meaning that he didn’t understand firing a gun would harm or kill someone, or that he didn’t understand that what he did was wrong.
In order to be found NCR, Landry told the jury that the defence must prove those elements on a balance of probabilities, meaning that it is more likely than not the case. In order to be found guilty, the Crown must still prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In opening statements, the Crown provided its narrative of that day. Prosecutor Jill Knee said that in the span of 37 minutes, four people were killed and Raymond himself was shot once.
The Crown said it would be calling 39 witnesses, some of whom were there at 237 Brookside Dr. on Aug. 10, 2018. Some were woken up by shots and others were shot at.
Knee concluded her narrative by saying that the prosecution believes Raymond planned the shooting and that he knew the nature and quality of his actions and that they were wrong.
In an unusual turn, the defence also made an opening statement to the jury. Defence counsel Breana Vandebeek told the jury that the defence would not be disputing the facts of the shooting in order to avoid stirring up trauma for the families and to keep the proceedings squarely focused on Raymond’s mental state at the time.
Vandebeek said Raymond’s mental state began deteriorating one to two years prior to the shooting and he became continually wrapped up in conspiracy theories and withdrew from his family. She said that in the days leading up to the shooting, Raymond was not sleeping, hearing pounding on the walls and door of his apartment, and believed someone was coming for him and that things were being moved in his house. Vandebeek suggested that Raymond experienced a delusion of a child in the courtyard of the apartment complex telling him to “come out and play, baby.”
The mass of papers with incomprehensible calculations found inside Raymond’s apartment was mentioned, along with the strange writings left out on his bed. One read: “You serpents picked the wrong man to test. I am not alone. He is coming.”
After opening statements, five agreed statements of fact were admitted to the court, covering much of the factual aspects of the shooting, including who had been shot, along with where and how many times, a timeline of events and that Raymond knew the officers he shot were police.
When the jury left the room, the defence alleged that the Crown had made improper statements during the opening address, saying they didn’t know what evidence the defence would call. Lead defence counsel Nathan Gorham argued that the statement was misleading and improper.
The first witness of the trial was RCMP evidence custodian Const. Stephane Sabourin, who went through each of the 21 different scenes explaining how they were processed and what evidence was seized.
At the outset of what should have been the second day of testimony, Gorham told the court that the defence was applying for a mistrial and for the trial to continue by judge alone. Landry put the trial on pause for the rest of the week to allow both parties to file briefs and heard arguments on Monday, Sept. 21.
On Sept. 22, Landry rendered his decisions, saying the Crown did err, but not enough to warrant a mistrial.
When the jury returned on Sept. 23, Landry gave them an instruction, telling them to disregard the comments and argument made by the Crown that they didn’t know what evidence the defence would call.
“Even though the defence has no obligation, they did, in fact, disclose to the Crown evidence they will use,” Landry told the jury.
He also said the Crown gave opinion on what the evidence would show, which is also improper and asked the jury to disregard the relevant statements.
Once the trial resumed, the Crown called Ceilidh Bowen, who was training as a paramedic when she was called to the scene on Aug. 10, 2018.
Bowen was in the ambulance that rushed Raymond to hospital after he had been shot by police. She testified that Raymond said three sentences to her: “They were outside my window. They were taunting me. It’s not my fault they made me do it.”
Const. Sabourin then continued his testimony. The defence used cross-examination to introduce some of the physical evidence found in Raymond’s apartment, including some of his notebooks and flyers that had been written on.
Next was Brendan Doyle, former owner of Read’s Newsstand in downtown Fredericton. He said Raymond had frequented Read’s for a number of years, often speaking to staff about his interests in biking and video games. Doyle said that over time Raymond became more interested in firearms and spoke less about his other hobbies.
In 2017, Doyle said, he saw Raymond protesting outside city hall with a sandwich board draped over him that read: No Sharia Law. Doyle remembered being surprised and asked Raymond about it. Raymond responded by giving Doyle YouTube links and said he thought Canada should be limiting the number of immigrants it was accepting.
Once he learned Raymond had been broaching the topic with other customers, Doyle asked him to stop coming to the coffee shop.
Testimony from apartment residents
Justin McLean, a former resident of the Brookside Drive apartment complex, was also called by the Crown on Sept. 23. He said he had been woken up by the sound of gunshots between 6:30 and 7:00 that morning. He said he saw constables Burns and Costello get shot and had run outside to help when he was pulled inside the police’s armoured vehicle.
McLean also spoke about the few times he had spoken to Raymond. He mentioned that Raymond had complained to him about noise from motorcycles in the apartment complex. McLean also said Donnie Robichaud rode a motorcycle.
Testimony continued with Shawn Noble and Kendra Snodgrass, who also lived in the apartment complex. Snodgrass spoke about seeing someone on the ground outside and, fearing that they were having a seizure, woke up Noble and both ran outside to help.
Noble said he checked for a pulse on Robichaud and felt nothing. The pair waited for police to arrive.
According to Noble, shots were fired about a minute after the police arrived. Noble said he saw a white canister fall to the ground from a window and, fearing it was some sort of bomb, grabbed Snodgrass and hid behind a nearby car where they remained until the armoured vehicle arrived.
Testimony continued on Sept. 24, with more people who lived in the Brookside Drive apartment complex.
Norma Foster said she heard gunshots not long after waking up. When she saw bodies on the ground she called the police.
Sarah Gould was woken up by the gunshots shortly after 7:00 a.m. She told the jury about running into her sister’s room, looking out the window and seeing a screen on the ground. When she looked up, Gould saw the barrel of a rifle coming out of the window above her.
Martin Vezina said he thought the gunshots were firecrackers. When he looked out of his living room window he saw the barrel of a gun coming from a window across the courtyard. Vezina said shots were fired in his direction, shattering some of the glass in his window, at which point he dropped to the ground and crawled to his bedroom, where he stayed with his girlfriend and daughter until the police arrived to evacuate them.
Fredericton Police officers describe arriving on scene
Sgt. Jason Forward was in the car just behind Burns and Costello that morning. Forward said it was “all hands on deck” when the active shooter call came into the station. Costello was just beginning his shift and Burns was just coming off the night shift, but they got into the same car, with Forward just behind them.
When he arrived, both officers had already been shot.
“I knew at this point I couldn’t get to Robb and Sara,” Forward testified. “I could be the victim next. I don’t know where this guy is, or gal. I don’t know where they are.”
He then crawled out of his car and onto the ground.
“I’m thinking, am I next? I’m thinking, am I next?” he said.
Once it was determined where shots were coming from, Forward says he told an officer to shoot if the suspect raised their gun to fire again. When he got to the door of Raymond’s apartment, a sledgehammer was used to break a hole in order to throw a gas canister inside.
Eventually, an RCMP robotic camera was thrown into the apartment to find where Raymond was.
The trial was put on hold on Sept. 25 due to illness when one of the lawyers felt sick and looked to get a COVID-19 test.
When it resumed on Monday, Sept. 28, Const. Brett Arbeau told the jury about his role on the morning of the shooting.
When he arrived on scene, Arbeau grabbed the carbine from his vehicle and moved to see if he could get a clear shot at the suspect. Arbeau described seeing Raymond raise his rifle to fire, but when he pulled the trigger his carbine misfired. He says he rolled behind cover to clear the chamber and when he rolled back out he and Raymond saw each other.
“We locked eyes. He raised his firearm and as he raised his firearm I saw the barrel pointed directly at me. I pulled the trigger,” Arbeau testified.
Det. Jared Blackmore was a member of the emergency response team and was in the armoured vehicle. He talked about evacuating Snodgrass and Noble, as well as helping detain Raymond inside his apartment.
Const. Stephen Murphy is part of the tactical emergency medical support team (TEMS) and testified about arriving on scene to try and recover Burns and Costello.
He said he looked around and saw “no signs of life whatsoever.”
Murphy also saw Raymond when he was being led out of his apartment and said he was surprised by Raymond’s calm demeanour, despite having been shot in the abdomen.
Const. Jeff Cameron talked about driving the armoured vehicle.
Const. Brandon Jordan was the designated breacher on the emergency response team and talked about the attempts to break down the door to Raymond’s apartment and the deployment of CS gas.
Rounding out the witnesses on Sept. 28 was Sayad Motallebikia, who testified about shots being fired at his apartment window. Motallebikia said one bullet went through the walls of the apartment and struck just inches above the head of his sleeping son.
During cross-examination, Motallebikia was asked if he ever gave Raymond a dirty look, to which he said no. He was also asked if his son had ever said “come out and play, baby” to Raymond, but he said his son didn’t speak English at the time.
On Sept. 29, members of the RCMP began to be called by the Crown.
Cpl. Francis Coutu and Cpl. Chris Kean spoke about processing the various crime scenes spread across the apartment complex.
RCMP firearms expert Jacque Rioux appeared on Sept. 30 and spoke about the trajectory of the bullets found around the crime scene.
In his testimony, Rioux said the trajectory of the bullets recovered from the back parking lot, where all four victims were killed, suggested they were fired from the window of Raymond’s storage room. The shots fired at three different apartments in the A and B buildings of the complex came from Raymond’s living room window, Rioux said.
On Oct. 1, members of the RCMP ERT spoke about entering Raymond’s apartment.
Cpl. Jeremy Harding, Cpl. Mark Simon and Const. Jean Francois Comeau described the chaotic scene when they arrived at Brookside Drive.
Comeau was the first officer inside the apartment and said he “thought one of us was going to get shot.”
He said when he spotted Raymond, he was raising his rifle to fire. Comeau testified that he fell on Raymond with his ballistics shield and punched him several times in the head to subdue him. Another officer was able to wrestle the rifle away.
Nurses testify about Raymond’s stay in hospital
On Oct. 1, Denise Green, Reanne Allain and Nelly Clarke, all nurses at the Dr. Edward Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, described their interactions with Raymond during his stay in hospital.
Each described Raymond as calm, co-operative and polite. Allain and Clarke also confirmed that Raymond had been prescribed the antipsychotic drug Haldol while in hospital, but said that it was only administered once.
Dr. Ken Obensen, a forensic pathologist, testified on Oct. 2. Obensen said each of the victims died from gunshot wounds and ruled their deaths homicides.
Several other nurses also testified that day, including Lisa Warren and Gwenda Stevenson. Each echoed the previous testimony of their colleagues, saying Raymond was calm and co-operative.
Heather Hannon, another nurse who works at the Dr. Edward Chalmers Hospital, testified that when she asked Raymond why he was in hospital, he replied: “I’m here for four murders, they tell me.”
She also told the jury that Raymond became agitated, shouting, “There’s someone in the room with me.”
According to Hannon, when Raymond was told there was no one else in the room, he replied, “I’m not crazy. Cut the bulls–t.”
A doctor then prescribed Raymond Haldol and a small dose was administered.
Electronic data entered
RCMP tech crimes specialist Cpl. Aaron Gallagher began his testimony on Oct. 5 and remained on the stand until Oct. 9.
Gallagher told the jury about his work extracting data from Raymond’s computer. He said that several conspiracy-type videos downloaded from the YouTube page of Rob Lee Truther were found on Raymond’s computer, including some that purported to teach the viewer how to identify demons using numerology.
In all, hundreds of images and videos were introduced through Gallagher’s evidence, including screenshots of websites full of drawn-on numerological calculations and videos of Raymond using his firearms for target practice in remote areas around Fredericton.
Emails between Raymond and Rob Lee were also shown to the jury. In their correspondence, Lee asked Raymond to compile a list of demons that frequent his YouTube channel. Raymond produced a list of just over 20 names.
The two eventually had a falling out after Raymond began accusing one particular user of being a demon. Lee told Raymond that he seemed “crazy” and told him he was “seeing demons everywhere.”
The defence ended their cross examination after a sixth agreed statement of facts was admitted by the court, where the Crown conceded that Raymond had a mental disorder at the time of the shooting.
Supreme Court decision and publication ban hearing slow trial
On Wednesday, Oct. 7 the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Bill C-75, which dispensed with peremptory challenges during the jury selection process. In the old system, both the Crown and defence had a certain number of challenges that could be exercised, allowing them to dismiss an otherwise acceptable juror without giving a reason.
The previous trial judge in the Raymond case had ruled in 2019 that the trial would be held using the old system, allowing peremptory challenges. After the Supreme Court decision the trial was put on hold, but ultimately the Crown decided that they had not suffered any prejudice through the use of the old system.
That same day, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation challenged a publication ban on YouTube usernames, including Raymond’s own. The defence had argued that Raymond had become fixated on the issue of releasing the usernames and that it was beginning to impact their relationship with Raymond, potentially impacting his fair trial rights.
The CBC argued that since Raymond had been found fit and was presumed to be fit, he was capable of making decisions contrary to his interest.
Landry ruled in favour of the defence and granted a temporary publication ban of the usernames, which expired when the jury was sequestered.
The videos of the RCMP interrogation of Raymond were played for the court on Oct. 13. At this point, exactly four weeks had elapsed since the beginning of the trial, but just 11 days of testimony had been heard.
RCMP officers Cpl. Mark Blakely and Cpl. Annika Faa interviewed Raymond twice over two days in August 2018. Raymond refused to talk about what had happened on Aug. 10 and often asked to speak to his lawyer whenever the subject was broached.
The Crown completed its portion of the evidence when Blakely finished on the stand.
Defence presents more electronic data
On Oct. 14, Alex Pate began his testimony. Pate is a lawyer at lead defence counsel Nathan Gorham’s law firm and was tasked with combing through the mountain of electronic data found on Raymond’s computer.
Dozens of videos downloaded to Raymond’s computer were played for the jury, dealing with conspiracy theories ranging from demons to the illuminati to flat Earth theory.
Hundreds of images created by Raymond were also shown, many pointing out facial features that Raymond believed indicated the person shown was a demon.
Pate also testified about Raymond’s behaviour in court over his many pre-trial court appearances over the last two years. In many Raymond shouts about how he should be immediately released and tells former trial judge Fred Ferguson that he is under arrest for violating his rights. In audio recordings of meetings between Raymond and the defence, Raymond refused to talk about the case, often accusing Gorham of acting against him by raising the issue of fitness.
Pate’s testimony continued until Oct. 22, with interruptions for some other witnesses.
Forensic psychiatrists have differing diagnoses
Dr. Ralph Holly, the first of three forensic psychiatrists, appeared in court on Oct. 16.
Holly treated Raymond during his stays at the Restigouche Hospital Centre in Campbellton, where Raymond first arrived after he was found not fit to stand trial in October 2019. Holley said he diagnosed Raymond with schizophrenia.
Raymond only spent 60 days in Restigouche during his first visit, but was quickly sent back when he began refusing his medication in jail. Holly said Raymond was unkempt and displayed signs of disorganized thought and delusions. He appeared before the New Brunswick Review Board, which makes and reviews conditions placed on an accused with respect to fitness to stand trial due to a mental disorder, in order to treat Raymond involuntarily and has been treating him since early this year.
One member of the jury was also dismissed on Oct. 16. Juror No. 2 had been seen playing sudoku, which he freely admitted when asked. Read more about that here.
The next psychiatrist to testify was Dr. Scott Woodside. Woodside diagnosed Raymond with delusional disorder, but agreed that the difference between that illness and schizophrenia is largely academic for the purposes of the trial.
Woodside told the jury that he was not able to give a full opinion on whether or not Raymond could be considered not criminally responsible because he refused to discuss the morning of the shooting. Based upon the evidence of his mental state leading up to the event, Woodside did say that it is possible an NCR defence would apply, but he couldn’t be sure without hearing more from Raymond about that morning.
Both Woodside and Holly agreed that there was virtually no chance that Raymond was “malingering” or faking his illness.
Raymond’s family testifies
On Oct. 21, Raymond’s sister and brother-in-law spoke to the jury about the changes they witnessed beginning in 2017.
Patricia and Geoffrey, whose last names are under publication ban, described Raymond as a good uncle to their two children. Patricia said her relationship with her brother was not always easy, but was amicable for the most part.
Geoffrey said Raymond could have been described as a friend. They would sometimes attend concerts together or play video games.
Both said they saw Raymond about four or five times a year for family functions and that he never missed their children’s birthdays.
But in 2017, after they declined to sign a petition Raymond had sent by email, they didn’t talk for about a year. They next saw Raymond in 2018 as their mother was preparing to sell the house.
Raymond told Geoffrey that he had been busy working to “protect” the family. He also told him that he was spending a lot of time in the woods and was “attuned with nature” and could speak to animals.
On Oct. 26, Raymond’s mother, Shirley Raymond, began her testimony. Raymond lived in her basement until May of 2018, when he moved to his Brookside Drive apartment.
She said she had begged her son for months to get help and believed he was sick. Raymond said she never thought her son would hurt someone and didn’t feel she could compel him to get help.
Shirley testified that Raymond had been stockpiling food and water in her basement and spoke about how events being shown on the news were fake. She told the jury that Raymond would talk for two hours at a time, often shutting the windows first to avoid being heard.
In early August 2018, Raymond had shown up at her house complaining about bank issues. Shirley said she became frustrated and told him that she couldn’t “help (him) anymore with your problems.”
The next time Shirley saw her son was when he was in hospital.
Raymond takes the stand in his own defence
Raymond took the stand in his own defence on Oct. 27, where he would stay until Nov. 3.
In his testimony, Raymond was often unable to explain the mountain of numerological calculations found on his computer and in his home.
Raymond testified that he believed that the world was controlled by a powerful cabal of demons and that he had been given the power by God to identify them. He said he no longer believes that demons walk the Earth and that those beliefs began to fade while he was being treated at the Restigouche Hospital Centre this year.
In the days prior to the shooting, Raymond said, he believed the end times had begun and that everyone in his apartment complex was a demon who wanted to kill him. After hearing a child tell him to “come out and play, baby,” which he believed was a message from God that the end times had started, he barricaded himself inside his apartment.
For the next several days, Raymond said he barely slept, kept his weapons loaded and waited for an attack. He said he felt trapped and that he might have to fight his way out.
Raymond said that on the night of Aug. 9, 2018, he stayed up all night writing out numerical calculations. The next morning he modified the magazine of his rifle so it could hold more bullets.
When he looked out the window, he said, he saw two demons and he fired. Raymond says he moved between the windows of his house firing at everything that moved. He believed he had shot seven demons in all.
While under cross-examination, Raymond’s assertions that he didn’t know what he did was wrong were challenged. When prosecutor Knee finished her questions Raymond began sobbing, saying through tears, “I’m so sorry to the families.”
Final witness says he believes Raymond didn’t know what he was doing
On Nov. 3, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Julian Gojer took the stand.
While Gojer would not weigh in on if he thought Raymond could be considered not criminally responsible, he said he believed Raymond met the different parts of the test. Gojer said Raymond has schizophrenia and that his delusions were inextricably linked with his actions that day.
Gojer said he believed that if Raymond’s delusions led him to believe that he was shooting demons, not people, he would not have understood the nature and quality of his actions. He added that if Raymond truly felt he was under attack he would not have thought his actions to be wrong, regardless of if he thought he was shooting people or demons.
Under cross-examination, Gojer agreed that Raymond had only told him about his belief in demons in October of this year, while the trial was ongoing, but he said there was so much electronic data on the topic, Raymond’s admission only served to strengthen his clinical opinion.
Gojer also acknowledged that during his previous interview with Raymond, he had said that he shot people, not demons.
Whether or not Raymond can be considered not criminally responsible is now in the hands of the jury, who will remain sequestered until they come to a decision.
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