By Aaron Humes: The five men charged in the murder of Pastor Llewellyn Lucas were supposed to be taken to court on Monday afternoon at 1:30 in Belmopan to be read their charges.
But when they got there, we are told that the Magistrate ordered their release because something was wrong with the fact sheet. However, reports are that police re-arrested them right away. They were then brought down to Belize City late Monday evening for arraignment, but reports from the Magistrate’s Court indicated that it did not happen as the court normally shuts at five and the caretaker was not around to open the courtroom.
Finally, this morning, 46 year old William Mason, who has a number of aliases and is a businessman of Intelco Hill, Belmopan, along with 4 others, identified as Ashton Vanegas, 23, a Construction Worker of Camalote Village, Keiron Kenneth Fernandez, a Construction Worker of Progress Avenue, Roaring Creek Village, 20 year old Ernest Henry Castillo, a labourer of Roaring Creek Village and 30 year old Labourer, Terrence Fernandez, also of Roaring Creek Village, were arraigned on charges of murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
But the story goes far more than that. This morning’s match-up before Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith featured Herbert Panton for the defense and no less than Assistant Commissioner of Police Chester Williams – last year called to the Bar – for the Department. He says he was asked to step in by the Commissioner himself, using his law degree.
Williams said yesterday’s dismissal was according to the law and no more than anyone accused of such serious charges deserved. He said he is not sure whether he will be continuing with the case beyond today’s arraignment.
Meanwhile, Panton, a former magistrate, who told us that his clients have been dragged around all day in a battle over jurisdiction, deserve a properly founded prosecution, which he believes are already underlined by a poor start to the investigation – the conflicting statements by the alleged kidnapping victim and not making any connection between the head and burned body found, respectively, in Mason’s vehicle and at the ranch at mile 31.
In relation to the allegations surrounding false documents and identity theft, Panton said he welcomes a further investigation but will not comment as his clients have not retained him for that purpose.
No plea was taken by Chief Magistrate Ann-marie Smith since the offenses are indictable and due to the nature of the offense, they were all remanded to the Belize Central Prison until September 7, 2016.
Case management was agreed upon for October 6, 2016.
A date has not yet been agreed upon yet for preliminary inquiry because case management must be done first to see where the case will go and if there is sufficient evidence against the men for the case to proceed any further.
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