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Jul 28, 2020

Mason Five Seeks the Mercy of the Court Ahead of Sentencing

William “Danny’’ Mason and four others, convicted for the beheading of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas, were escorted to the Supreme Court this morning well before nine o’clock.  The men have been awaiting sentencing, but their day of reckoning has been met with hurdles.  Today, it was no exception as difficulties in court technology gave way to a late start for mitigation, which concluded until after four o’clock this afternoon.  The men headed back to prison and return before Justice Antoinette Moore one more time, before they learn how long they will spend behind bars for one of the most heinous murders in the country. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Mitigation, in an attempt at seeking leniency from the court for what is arguably the most heinous crime to have been committed in recent memory, continued well into the afternoon.  William ‘Danny’ Mason, convicted on December 3rd, 2019, along with four others for the July 2016 murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas, exited a police van this morning at the foot of the Supreme Court.  As is customary with all court appearances since being arrested, charged, tried and convicted for the decapitation of the Christian minister, the Mason Five was escorted under heavy police guard.  Appearing on their behalf were attorneys Baja Shoman, Norman Rodriguez, Bryan Neal, Iliana Swift and Dexter Todd for Ernest Castillo, Ashton Vanegas, Kieron Fernandez, Terrence Fernandez and William ‘Danny’ Mason, respectively.  Today’s session resumed an unforeseen adjournment of their sentencing which was initially scheduled for July ninth.  At the time, Justice Antoinette Moore’s tenure on the Supreme Court bench had come to an end without her having specified the punishment of the Mason Five which had been previously convicted of murder.

Having renewed her contract, this morning Justice Moore once again presided over the matter in the Belize District jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.  Present in the courtroom were family and friends of the convicted men, some who were there to speak on their behalf while asking the court for leniency.  Oral addresses were made primarily by their lawyers who took turns in an endeavour to ensure the minimum sentence possible in the circumstances and to assist the court in sentencing these offenders.  First on the stand to throw himself at the mercy of the court was Ernest Castillo.  In accepting his role in the commission of the murder, Castillo told the court that he was remorseful and that the crime for which he was charged in July 2016 was his first offense.  He had been placed on pretrial detention eleven weeks after turning twenty.  Castillo’s attorney, Baja Shoman, in referencing a social inquiry report provided by the Community Rehabilitation Department, cited that her client was a hardworking individual who was the breadwinner in his family from a very young age.  Next on the stand was Ashton Vanegas.  In a brief statement before the court, Vanegas said that whilst incarcerated he has successfully completed three courses offered by the Kolbe Foundation that are helping with building his character.  Attorney Norman Rodriguez subsequently spoke about Vanegas’s short and long term goals.

The afternoon session, which resumed shortly before two o’clock, also saw pleas being entered on behalf of Kieron Fernandez who is being represented by attorney Bryan Neal.  Iliana Swift appears on behalf of Kieron’s sibling, Terrence Hernandez, and attorney Dexter Todd joined the session via teleconference from Guyana.  He will be speaking for Mason, who is also expected to address the court on Wednesday morning when the men will learn their fates. Notwithstanding the sentence, however, there has been previous indication that Mason will be appealing his conviction. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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