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Dec 3, 2019

Guilty as Charged – The Mason Five is Convicted of Beheading Pastor Lue

The sensational trial of William “Danny’’ Mason and four other accused men concluded today in the Belmopan Supreme Court.  As the nation waited with bated breath, the verdict from Justice Antoinette Moore was guilty, all five of them, on the grounds that the evidence presented by the prosecution, led by D.P.P. Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, was irrefutable.  Mason along with Ernest Castillo, Ashton Vanegas, and siblings Keiron and Terrence Fernandez had acted in a joint enterprise to murder Pastor Llewellyn Lucas on July fifteenth of 2016.  While a body was not found, the pastor’s head was found by police in a bucket in Mason’s vehicle parked at a bar in Belmopan.  According to the Justice, as a matter of law, the court only needed to know that some harm occurred that led to the Pastor’s death. Furthermore, it was well-established that the pastor’s death was not accidental or by his own making.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has a full coverage of the trial of the century that took place over weeks and ended in a guilty verdict.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Perhaps the most widely covered legal matter before the high court, the murder trial of William ‘Danny’ Mason and four men, equally accused of the heinous murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas, came to an end at midday.  The Mason Five, as we will refer to the convicted parties collectively, is now awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of decapitating the Christian minister in July 2016.  The verdict succeeded a lengthy session in which Justice Antoinette Moore painstakingly reviewed a number of points highlighted in a summary judgment.  In court this morning were friends and family of the deceased clergyman.  Noticeably absent were relatives of the suspects, including Melissa Ferguson, wife of William ‘Danny’ Mason.  The chamber was also heavily guarded, with conspicuous law enforcement presence in and around the building.

 

Llewellyn Lucas

When the matter commenced sometime after ten a.m., Justice Moore informed the court that a full judgment which is over a hundred pages in length, will be released on a later date.  In rationalizing her arrival at a decision, the judge raised critical points that were introduced during the trial, including a cause of death for Pastor Lue.  Was his death the result of harm or did he die from other means?  In arguing on behalf of his client, Guyanese attorney Dexter Todd cited a case from his home country dating back to 1973 in which it was legally established that determining the cause of death is critical to prosecuting a homicide.  That, according to Justice Moore, was peculiar since it has also been proven in other jurisdictions that an exact cause of death may not be necessary to determine that a victim died of harm.  In this case, the Director of Public Prosecutions successfully proved, sans the physical remains, that Lucas succumbed to injuries inflicted to his body.

 

Justice Moore, in reflecting on the proof of guilt, turned to the trove of circumstantial evidence presented by the Crown.  The compelling nature of the forensic, electronic and DNA evidence gathered and used to demonstrate responsibility for Lucas demise ultimately led to her decision.  As an aside, the detailed and thorough work of all those involved in that process, including the Scenes of Crime Technician who swabbed and collected the evidence, was formally acknowledged.  Notwithstanding all attempts by the defense to poke holes in the prosecution’s argument, they were unable to establish reasonable doubt.  Even when taken separately, all three strands of evidence were enough to convince the judge that the Mason Five is responsible for Pastor Lue’s beheading.  In applying the common law doctrine of joint enterprise, Justice Moore found that William Mason, Ashton Vanegas, Ernest Castillo and siblings Kieron and Terrence Fernandez acted in concert during the commission of the crime.  For that they have been condemned for the crime of murder.  Sentencing has been deferred to a later date.


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