OTTAWA — A visiting judge will decide whether Mason Shannon gets a new trial for manslaughter in connection with a death at a greenhouse business.
Shannon, 44, of Mason City, Iowa appeared Thursday on post-trial motions and left with one of his requests granted. Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr., in a terse ruling, said he would recuse himself from the remainder of the case even though it wasn’t legally necessary.
Shannon now waits for the assignment of a new judge — prosecutors estimated two weeks for a fill-in judge to be tabbed — and then he and his lawyer will argue for a new trial.
Shannon was convicted last fall of involuntary manslaughter (sentencing range: 2-5 years) for killing Michael Castelli of Ottawa outside the Bonnie plants growing facility in summer 2017. Before he could be sentenced, however, Shannon and his lawyer filed a stack of motions alleging he didn’t get a fair shake at last year’s bench trial.
The first issue settled was whether there was a conflict of interest when Ryan let his wife, Kala, serve as court reporter during the trial. This spring, a visiting judge decided there was no proof or prejudice by Ryan; but then Ryan removed himself from Shannon’s case, anyway.
Shannon testified he killed Castelli in self-defense. Ryan, however, decided Shannon overdid it when he put Castelli into what’s called a carotid sleeper hold. That’s a type of neck restraint that puts pressure on major blood vessels to induce unconsciousness and, if held long enough, death.