Man pleads guilty to fatal 2019 Red Deer Walmart shooting – Ponoka News

A man accused of shooting dead a customer outside a Red Deer Walmart shortly before Christmas in 2019 unexpectedly pleaded guilty on Monday afternoon just before his trial began.

Jury selection had just been completed at the Baymont Inn and Suites when 20-year-old Chase Freed pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Dozens of potential jurors had come to the hotel so that 12 jurors and four alternates could be chosen.

Freed was due to stand trial until June 30 for shooting 69-year-old CJ (Jim) Williams in front of his wife during a December 20, 2019 robbery outside Red Deer South Walmart.

Freed was also facing a charge of felony theft from police and two charges of attempted murder for allegedly shooting passers-by in the parking lot as he fled the scene in an SUV driven by Crystal Lee Maurice.

The case has been adjourned until Thursday, when a two-day sentencing hearing is due to begin at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Red Deer.

A spokesperson for Alberta’s Department of Justice said Tuesday the jury stands until the defendant’s guilty plea is accepted by the court. Until then, an accused could change his mind and a trial proceed as planned.

RCMP say Williams and his wife had just left Walmart, busy with Christmas shopping, when he was confronted around 6:45 p.m. in the parking lot by a masked man armed with a sawed-off semi-automatic rifle.

Williams was shot and mortally wounded. Bystanders and RCMP performed CPR on Williams until an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital in Red Deer, where he died a short time later.

The RCMP immediately launched a widespread search for Freed and Maurice. Several hours later, police tracked down the two suspects, now in separate trucks, and arrested them near Highway 11A near Sylvan Lake.

Maurice was arrested in the vehicle and Freed was arrested after a short foot chase. Maurice pleaded guilty to several counts in December 2021 and was sentenced to six months in prison, satisfied with the time served, and also received a suspended 12-month prison order including house arrest and cover. -fire.

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