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Jul 19, 2019

Judge Rules: Caution Statement in Murder Trial against Mason & Co-Accused Men Inadmissible

In the Belmopan Supreme Court, Justice Antoinette Moore handed down a major decision in the murder case of Danny Mason and his co-accused.  At the conclusion of a voir dire this afternoon, a caution statement by accused murderer Ernest Castillo in which he takes the wrap for the beheading of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas three years ago was deemed inadmissible. It means that all the five accused men continue to face murder charges. News Five’s Duane Moody was in Belmopan and has the following report.

 

Bryan Neal, Attorney for Keiron Fernandez

“The Police used force to extract the confession and that made the confession inadmissible and so the confession will not form a part of this case.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

That was the ruling handed down by Belmopan Supreme Court Justice Antoinette Moore today in the voir dire of the murder trial against William “Danny” Mason and four co-accused men. In the mini trial within a trial, the prosecution in the form of D.P.P. herself Cheryl-Lynn Vidal attempted to get the judge to include a caution statement by Ernest Castillo as key evidence in the trial. In that statement, Castillo confesses to the murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas back in July of 2016. But legal aide Baja Shoman, who appeared on behalf of Castillo, was able to convince the judge that the statement was given under duress and it is now excluded from the trial and details cannot be referenced in the arguments going forward.

Now, it is believed that if the statement was accepted, Castillo would have essentially taken the wrap for the killing and as such, the murder charge against Mason, Terrence and Keiron Fernandez as well as Ashton Vanegas would have been disposed of. But since that did not happen, what does that mean for the defense attorneys?

 

Bryan Neal

“It never did mean anything for my case, but I think it is significant for Miss Baja Shoman; she was the person who really did all the work and she needs to be commended for the work that she did. And I think that now that it is not included in the case, it cannot be used as evidence against her client.”

 

Duane Moody

“Now, if it was admitted in as evidence, it would have been a key piece of document for you as the defense attorney for the co-accused. Talk to us about that; what you can share.”

 

Bryan Neal

Bryan Neal

“When witnesses speculate in court, I get on them so I don’t want to speculate. It’s not in evidence; I can’t speculate on what would have happened had it been included in evidence. It’s really a dead issue.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir, but it could have been used as…you know what, this man is taking the blame so it would exonerate your client.”

 

Bryan Neal

“That is not the case.”

 

Duane Moody

“At least of the murder charge…”

 

Bryan Neal

“That is not the case.”

 

Dexter Todd

Guyanese attorney Dextor Todd says that every statement given by a suspect in a matter must be freely and voluntarily given. He says Castillo’s caution statement had no effect on his client.

 

Dexter Todd, Attorney for William “Danny” Mason

“There was no direct effect of that caution statement to my client. I believe the law is still trite on the issues that caution statement can only be used allegedly by the maker of that statement and would have never really affected any other person. It cannot affect any other person. It only acts to affect the maker. But I don’t believe it is an issue anymore because I believe the court has given a very sound ruling on it and the court has given very sound reasons why the court would exclude that statement.”

 

Around one-thirty this afternoon, the five accused men—shackled in cuffs at the hands and feet—were escorted down the steps of the court building and placed into a police van. They were taken, under heavy police guard, back to the central prison in Hattieville until July twenty-second, when they are to re-appear in court; this time, at the Supreme Court room of Justice Williams in Belize City. The substantive murder trial continues with the testimony of witnesses. Attorney Bryan Neal explains the change in venue.

 

Bryan Neal

“On Monday we will be in Belize City because some of the witnesses will testify over the Skype technology so we will be in Belize City all of next week and I anticipate possibly the week after. So maybe two more weeks and we can have some resolution as far as I can see. My defense will not be very long. The strategy really for me is to try to absolve my client. He has pleaded not guilty so he is saying that he is not in any way associated with this crime. And it is to try to make sure that if the prosecution does not prove that he was involved that he is entitled to an acquittal. So that is my strategy going forward.”

 

Llewellyn Lucas

Over a dozen witnesses have already been called since the trial commenced in March of this year. And even though there were several delays and many more witnesses to testify, Todd says that he believes that the case will soon wrap up.

 

Dexter Todd

“There are witnesses that went yes, but some of the witnesses did not speak to any essential element of the offense and therefore there is no need for me to call some of those witnesses to waste and delay time. I believe what we have, at the latter part of this case, is really the evidence to be considered as against the accused persons. I would not judge to say whether it is evidence of any credible weight—that is for the court to decide—but I would say that this latter part of the case is where the concentration must be heavily placed on.”

 

While several defense attorneys have made applications to recall witnesses, Neal has made a request for a site visit during the trial. Duane Moody for News Five.


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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