BELMOPAN, Fri. Mar. 22, 2019– The much-observed trial of William “Danny” Mason and his co-accused that began earlier this month in the Belmopan Session of the Supreme Court for the July 2016 beheading murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas, has ground to a slow-down this morning and was adjourned for two weeks so that the accused men could hire a new defense team.
While Mason will be able to hire a new attorney, two of the accused men have indicated that they will require the state to provide them with an attorney, or attorneys, Amandala has learned.
Once an attorney or attorneys are in place, Justice Antoinette Moore will set a new date for the trial to continue.
Yesterday, rumors began flying all over social media that Mason had fired his lead attorney Herbert Panton and attorney Rachael Montejo, who had recently began working the case. When the case resumed this morning in the Supreme Court of Justice Antoinette Moore, just as with yesterday, the hearing went into a chamber mode, as the courtroom was cleared of everyone, including the media.
The hearing took less than one hour and shortly before 10:00 a.m., Panton emerged from the courtroom and reporters waiting outside asked him to confirm if indeed he had been fired by his client, Mason.
“Totally untrue. What happened yesterday is that I made an application to the court to be relieved of the defense of the five accused. That matter started today and that application, continued and the judge, just a while ago, concluded that application process and granted my application.
“So myself, and Ms Montejo are no longer representing the five accused. As a consequence, the matter has been adjourned to, I believe, sometime in the first week in April, just to give the accused time to find new counsel and the time and the trial will proceed from there,” Panton told reporters.
However, when Panton was pressed as to why he sought to remove himself from the high-profile case, he would not give his reasons.
“Would you care to share with us your reasons for asking to be removed, sir?”
“Well, I am still bound by my oath, so what I discuss with my client is not for public consumption,” Panton said.
As the case now stands, the prosecution, represented by Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl-Lynn Vidal and Crown Counsel Javier Chan, has called a total of 17 witnesses to testify. At the last hearing, the case went into a voir dire (a case within a case), as the defense had challenged the admissibility of a statement one of the accused men had given to police under caution.
Justice Moore will make a ruling on whether or not to admit the statement as evidence in the prosecution’s case against the accused men.
William Danny Mason, along with Terrence Fernandez, Keiron Fernandez, Ashton Vanegas, and Ernest Castillo are all jointly charged for the beheading murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas in July of 2016. The incident reportedly occurred at Mason’s ranch, located outside Belmopan, on the George Price Highway.
So far, the prosecution has adduced video evidence that Pastor Lucas had visited Mason’s ranch and has not been seen or heard from since; his head, however, was discovered in a bucket in the pan of a pickup truck owned by Mason.
Once Mason is able to retain counsel, the new attorney will be provided with a transcript of the trial and Justice Moore will then allow time for the attorney to get up to speed with the case before setting a new date for the trial to resume.