Juror dismissed from Fredericton shooting trial was playing Sudoku, closing his eyes
Matthew Vincent Raymond arrives at Court of Queen's Bench for the opening of his murder trial in Fredericton on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)
FREDERICTON -- The juror dismissed from his duties four weeks into Matthew Raymond’s murder trial in Fredericton was discharged after he was caught playing games and appearing to fall asleep while evidence was being presented.
On Oct. 16, an inquiry was held within the trial after a sheriff spotted a juror playing games on a notebook. Several people in the courtroom, including one of the victims’ family members, had spotted the same juror closing his eyes and leaning back in his chair during a previous day of testimony.
One by one, each of the 12 jurors answered questions from Justice Larry Landry, focused on the actions of juror No. 2.
The juror told Justice Landry that he would close his eyes out of frustration, but that he had “absolutely not” missed any of the evidence that was presented so far. He said he played the game of Sudoku to stay engaged.
“There seems to be a lot of time that’s inefficiently used that can be frustrating,” the juror told Justice Landry.
Other jurors told the court they had noticed him playing the game and showing frustration throughout the trial. One told Justice Landry that the juror said he had “stopped listening” at one point in the trial.
“What we must remember is those 12 members of the jury, when they were selected, became judges. They are judges in this case,” said Justice Landry. “And what would happen if anybody, the public, the lawyers, would see a judge closing his eyes through presentation of evidence for a serious amount of time … it doesn’t mean that the judge is not listening, it does not mean that the judge is not paying attention, however, there is a perception through the eyes of anybody that is involved in the trial, and also through the eyes of the public, that there is something that’s not acceptable.
“I am of the opinion that because of this, because of the fact that he was playing those games, that is in itself sufficient for me to exercise my discretion and to discharge him from the jury.”
The juror didn’t question his dismissal.
A second inquiry occurred in early November when a juror felt she had been intimidated by a family member sitting in the gallery. She told a sheriff that their eyes met and the individual shook their head at her. But she said she believed their eyes met “at the wrong time.”
“I think he was upset,” the juror said during an inquiry. “It's a challenging time for us as well.”
The juror said to Justice Landry that “people with masks on too, it makes it harder to interpret.”
The 11 jury members were sequestered Tuesday and started deliberating if Raymond, 50, will be found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.
Early in the trial, the Crown and defence agreed Raymond shot and killed Bobbie Lee Wright, Donnie Robichaud, Const. Sara Burns and Const. Robb Costello in Fredericton the morning of Aug. 10, 2018.
However, the defence argued that Raymond should be found not criminally responsible for the murders because of his mental illness.