General — 22 June 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Danny Mason’s murder trial fails to start because of his attorney’s no-show

BELMOPAN, Tues. June 18, 2019– William “Danny” Mason and the four other men who are accused of the beheading murder of Dangriga Pastor Llewellyn Lucas in July 2016, appeared in the Belmopan Supreme Court of Justice Antoinette Moore for the resumption of the trial this morning, but the case could not proceed, because Mason’s new attorney did not show up in court.

The hearing was then adjourned to the afternoon, but when the attorney again failed to appear, Justice Moore adjourned the case until Monday, June 24.

The high-profile murder trial began in the Belmopan session of the Supreme Court in February, and Mason was represented by attorneys Herbert Panton and Richard “Dickie” Bradley, but citing other commitments, Bradley walked away from the case, leaving Panton as the sole attorney defending the 5 accused men.

As the case progressed and a number of prosecution witnesses testified, another attorney, Rachael Montejo, joined the defense.

The trial continued until late March, when, according to a number of social media posts, Mason fired his attorneys.

On Friday, March 22, Panton told reporters that contrary to the rumors, he had made an application to the court to be released from the case and that Justice Moore had approved his application.

When Panton was asked why he removed himself from the case, he cited confidentiality between himself and his client.

Then, also in March, Mason hired a Guyanese attorney, Dexter Todd, and since accused murderers must be represented by a defense attorney, the state appointed four attorneys to represent Mason’s co-accused; Terence Fernandez is being defended by Iliana Swift; Ashton Vanegas is being defended by Norman Rodriguez; Keiron Fernandez is being defended by Bryan Neal, and Ernest Castillo is being defended by Baja Shoman, a legal aid attorney.

Following the adjournment of the case this afternoon, Neal explained to reporters what had happened.

“Well basically, we have 5 accused persons and it is very hard to coordinate five lawyers’ schedules. We have been having difficulty getting this case re-started; Mr. Panton was the previous attorney, along with Ms. Montejo, and 5 new attorneys were appointed, and it has been difficult to get, especially, Mr. Todd, who is now Mr. Mason’s attorney, but who is not in country but should be here tonight, according to Mr. Mason, and we should proceed — on Monday, the trial starts,” Neal said.

Neal was asked if there were other issues relating to the paperwork in the case, and he revealed that one of the accused men had informed his attorney that a statement he had given to police was not voluntarily given.

“One of the accused, I can’t recall the name, represented by Ms. Shoman, is saying that a confession statement he gave to the police was not voluntarily given, so what will happen is that they will have to do a voir dire and they will have to determine whether the caution statement was voluntarily given with accordance with section 90, I believe, of the Evidence Act,” Neal explained.

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