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Matthew Vincent Raymond is escorted from provincial court in Fredericton on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

FREDERICTON -- The hearing to determine if Matthew Raymond is fit to stand trial on four counts of first-degree murder has begun hearing evidence, including testimony from its first witness, audio recordings and the report of a forensic psychiatrist.

Raymond is accused of killing Fredericton police constables Robb Costello and Sara Burns and civilians Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright outside an apartment complex on the north side of the city on Aug. 10, 2018.

The two civilians were killed as they loaded their car for a trip, and the officers were shot as they responded to the scene.

A jury of four men and eight women began to hear evidence Wednesday to determine the 49-year-old Fredericton man's fitness -- whether he understands the charges and can instruct a lawyer on how to defend him.

"This hearing has nothing to do with whether Matthew Raymond is guilty or not guilty," said Court of Queen's Bench Justice Fred Ferguson in his instructions to the jury.

"Your task is to determine Matthew Raymond is, at this very moment in time, on account of mental disorder, fit or unfit to stand trial," he said.

Ferguson said the Criminal Code presumes someone is fit to stand trial.

"Fitness to stand trial has to do with the here and now, not some other time, not some other place," he said.

"It will be for you to decide on a balance of probabilities if he is unfit to stand trial."

Two women were chosen as alternates for the jury, but were released once testimony began and a full jury was in place.

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham then called his first witness: Alex Pate, an articling student with Gorham's firm.

Gorham then played two audio recordings of meetings he had with Raymond. It was stressed that those meetings occurred in rooms where they were overheard by guards and others, and were not subject to lawyer/client privilege.

He also read a report of forensic psychiatrist Julian Gojer that was dated Aug. 14.

The contents of that report, the audio recordings and other testimony is covered by a publication ban.

The evidence portion of the case continues Thursday and the court is expected to hear from a second forensic psychiatrist, Scott Woodside.

A new jury will have to be chosen when the case eventually goes to trial.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2019.