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Oct 24, 2019

Closing Arguments Continue in Danny Mason Trial

The murder trial of William Danny Mason and the other four men accused of killing Pastor Llewellyn Lucas continued today with closing arguments inside the Belmopan Supreme Court.  The trial has almost concluded, with just three attorneys left to make their closing arguments.  Those closing statements started on Wednesday with Mason’s attorney Dexter Todd.  His submission was followed by the crown’s closing argument which ran for about three hours. The D.P.P. Cheryl-Lynn Vidal continued with her closing submission today. On Wednesday, Vidal set out her arguments on the grounds that her case was not circumstantial, but that she would show that Mason, Ashton Vanegas, Keiron Fernandez, Ernest Castillo and Terrence Fernandez all acted together to kill Pastor Lucas.  Vidal made her arguments using phone records and text messages, as well as drawing on evidence collected by the Scenes of Crime personnel. Through the phone records, text messages in particular, Vidal submitted that Mason and Lu had a thorny relationship and was far different from the friendly relationship that Mason painted while he was on the stand. In those messages, exchanged just days before Pastor Lu was killed, he and Mason argued over monies that Mason refused to pay him for work services rendered. Pastor Lu reportedly got injured while doing work on Mason’s property and he expressed his disappointment with how Mason was handling the matter.  Lu had threatened, via text message, that he would report Mason to the Labour Department. Mason’s messages to a mutual contact described Pastor Lu as ungrateful and called him an idiot. According to the content of other messages, Pastor Lu claimed he was being threatened and also sent messages to say that he knew that some Chinese were being swindled. The video also showed Pastor Lu and the two men being kidnapped and thrown in the back of the F-150 truck that belongs to Mason and they drove off; they later released the two men but not Pastor Lu. The D.P.P. in her arguments argued that Pastor Lu was taken to the Outback Ranch and killed; that a pit on the ranch is where Lu’s body was burnt – pointing out that bones were removed from that site.  The severed head, she pointed out, was found in Mason’s truck in a sack and bucket similar to the ones on his farm. In her argument, Vidal said that all five men acted together to kill Pastor Lu. She says that Terrence Fernandez played a major part in the case and the evidence against him pointed to Lucas’ blood stains on his pants. In her statements against Mason – the D.P.P. said that messages showed that Mason invited Pastor Lue to collect the monies owed to him and the messages leading up to the murder also show that Mason was the owner of the farm where some bones were found and the vehicle where the head was found. Mason was also the driver of the vehicle the day that Pastor Lu was taken away. On the matter of Ernest Castillo, Keiron Fernandez and Ashton Vanegas, the D.P.P. says that were all placed at the scene of the kidnapping.  Following the D.P.P.’s presentation, attorney for Ernest Castillo, Baja Shoman made her closing arguments in just under two hours, pointing out that the D.P.P.’s statements were circumstantial because there was no eye-witness and no one saw her client commit the murder. Shoman tackled the crown’s presentation of the evidence to say that proper protocols were not followed in handling of the clothing and footwear her client was wearing. Shoman said that the scene-of-crime-tech could have contaminated her client’s clothing when he failed to follower proper chain of custody in processing the evidence. According to Shoman, the scene of crime tech, laid the clothing on the floor in the office where it could have become contaminated and that the evidence, that pieces of clothing that is, weren’t sealed immediately in front of her clients. This, she submitted, puts into question the integrity of the DNA evidence against Castillo. The closing arguments continue on Friday. While it is expected that it will conclude Friday, it may continue through to Monday, depending on the defense attorneys’ length of submissions.

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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