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Sep 14, 2016

William Mason and co-accused back in court but disclosure for murder case is delayed

This morning, the man who befriended a long list of ministers and highly connected personalities, forty-six year old murder suspect William “Danny” Mason, of Intelco Hill, Belmopan made another appearance in the Belize City Magistrate Court. Mason, who uses numerous aliases, appeared along with Ashton Vanegas of Camalote Village as well as with Keiron Kenneth Fernandez, Ernest Henry Castillo and Terrence Fernandez, all of Roaring Creek Village. The men are accused of the gruesome murder by beheading of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas. They are also charged with the kidnapping of Pastor Lucas and another man, businessman David Dodd; and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping in both cases.  There are several developments in this major case tonight, as reported by correspondent Aaron Humes from Treasury Lane.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

The area outside Court Number One at theOldTreasuryBuildingthis morning saw tight security from the Gang Suppression Unit and regular police officers to ward off a healthy number of curious spectators.

But all the action took place inside, where acting prosecutor, Assistant Commissioner of Police Chester Williams, made several important requests of Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith.

First, disclosure was scheduled to be given in the case today; however, it was not ready:


ACP Chester Williams, Prosecutor

ACP Chester Williams

“Yes the matter was adjourned today for disclosure but you all would understand that the Mason investigation is a very complex one. It is not per say and open and close investigation, and as the public has been saying that they want a proper investigation to be done and the police is doing just that. And because of the nature of the investigation, the degree the police needs to probe where this investigation is concerned. The collection of evidence pertaining to the matter takes an extended period of time and so we were not able to get the file to the D.P.P. until last week Friday, and again the D.P.P. having the file today adjournment, it would have been impracticable for her to peruse the file and prepare it for disclosure today,. What we did today was basically to ask the court for an adjournment and the criminal practice and procedure rule does provide the venue where the prosecution can apply for an adjournment in certain circumstance  and such circumstances is one where the inches of justice require that the adjournment be given. It also stipulates the time frame within which the disclosure is to be given and if you noticed that in hybrid offense It gives up to sixteen weeks which is four months. This is not a hybrid offense this is an indictable matter and in an indictable matter the rules states that it must be fourteen days before the PI. We have not even set a date for PI so there is nothing to say that we would have had to provide disclosure today so long as we remain within the timeline within the rules which is the fourteen days before PI then we’ll be in order.”


Williams found favour on this point as his request to the Chief Magistrate to adjourn the case saw no objection from the defense team for the five men – attorneys Herbert Panton; Dickie Bradley and Oscar Selgado.

He noted that the D.P.P. has a mountain of evidence to wade through, as police have tried to be thorough with giving her all that they have discovered.


ACP Chester Williams

“In the circumstances we are not depending on any confession from Mister Mason to say he gave the police this or he gave the police that and even in a case were the person constitutional rights have been violated it is not an absolute bar for the prosecution to be allowed to leak those evidence. There are case law as that clearly states that these things are within the discretion of the trial judge and I am sure that the officer of the D.P.P. will make sure that when those hurdles are reached, they will find a way to cross it.”


But the second request is bigger – a submission to have all the cases transferred toBelize City. According to Williams, it has to do with the nature of kidnapping and conspiracy as crimes:


ACP Chester Williams

“The main issue in that is that fact that all the matters arose from one circumstance and even as it relates to the murder of Pastor Lue, you would see that the murder charge was in Belize judicial district but the Conspiracy to commit murder was in Belmopan. Now the same murder you are talking about, the same sets of evidence, the same witnesses. And mu submission to the court is that the kidnapping in which the defendants are charged which is under section 75A of the criminal code, that offense did not occur until the defendants had taken their victims out of the Cayo judicial district and that would be when they arrived at mile 31. That is when that offence actually took place. So were saying that the proper venues for where that took place in the Belize judicial district and not the Cayo judicial district. As it relates to conspiracy; conspiracy by law is a continuing offence so you could begin to conspire in Africa or the UK and if the conspiring continues in Belize its will follow the offence. So again you can be charged in that circumstance for conspiracy in any judicial district, so we are saying let us have all the matters come to Belize City magistrate court. One it will save us time, money and resources and most importantly you will be able to ventilate all the issue in one court rather than being here and next day go to Belmopan. It makes proper sense to make all the matters heard by one court.”


On this point, the defence attorneys asked for time to reply to his submissions, which was granted. Williams must prepare and submit his arguments by September twenty-third, with a response from the defence by September thirtieth. The Chief Magistrate then will give her decision. In the meantime, Mason; Vanegas; the Fernandezes and Castillo remain behind bars.

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


The case comes back to court for case management on November ninth.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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