BELMOPAN, Thurs. Sept. 12, 2019– As the murder trial of William Danny Mason and his four co-accused, Terence Fernandez, Ashton Vanegas, Keiron Fernandez and Ernest Castillo entered its defense phase, today the court heard from Mason, who is believed to have been the mastermind behind the 2016 beheading murder of Dangriga Pastor Llewellyn Lucas.
When Supreme Court Justice Antoinette Moore explained the three defense options available to him — one, you could go on the witness stand and give sworn evidence and be subjected to cross examination; you can make a dock statement and you will not have to answer any questions, though a dock statement carries less weight than if you were to give evidence and be cross examined; or thirdly, you can stay where you are and not say anything.
Mason decided to make an unsworn dock statement.
So from the prisoners dock, Mason, told the court that he is a businessman who came to Belize in search of business opportunities in the livestock and agriculture sectors and how he met and befriended Pastor Lucas, whose head was found in a bucket in the pan of his pickup, in Belmopan.
Mason told the court how he had become concerned after Pastor Lucas had told him that he was receiving threatening text messages. Mason said that Pastor Lucas, who represented his (Mason’s) business interests, had missed work for one month and how Pastor Lucas wanted to borrow money from him, but that day he was busy at his ranch.
In the evening of that Saturday, Mason told the court, he was called by a friend, Jesus Castillo, to have some drinks at a bar in Belmopan.
It was while he and his workmen who had gone with him to the bar, that they encountered the police, who Mason described as being overzealous in their attempt to search his vehicle, although he said he could not find the keys for the vehicle.
Mason said he was removed from the bar for awhile and when he returned, he saw three police officers standing near his pickup and another police officer was inside the vehicle. Mason told the court that he saw police remove something from his vehicle.
Nothing was told to him, Mason said, until he was confronted at the Belmopan Police station by the now retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, Russell Blackett and told that Pastor Lucas’ head was found in his vehicle.
It was at this point that Mason broke down and began sobbing. Mason told the court that he was sad to learn what had happened to his friend.
Mason told the court that the now retired Blackett pressed him for information, and he did not know why the police had such an interest in him.
Mason said the last time he saw Pastor Lucas was when he left his house, and how he was saddened by the pastor’s demise.
“I had nothing to do with this,” Mason told the court as he began winding down his dock statement. “I must say that I was very shocked by what was happening. I had nothing to do with this allegation; I help people, I care for people, and I would never do this. I have been dragged, defamed, called names and lost income.”
Whether or not the court believes what Mason said from the prisoner’s dock will have to be determined by Justice Moore, who has also been provided with a mountain of evidence against the accused men that was led by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal.
The trial is expected to continue tomorrow, Friday.