Walter_James_Mason

Mason

Walter James Mason, the man accused of a 1980 murder in Clayton has been ordered to undergo a second evaluation of his mental state.

Last month a psychologist reported that Mason, 86, was not mentally fit to proceed to trial and assist in his own defense.

Custer County Prosecutor Justin Oleson sought the second examination by personnel at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and Magistrate Judge James Barrett granted it.

Mason’s health was so poor when he was arrested, the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office warned Custer County deputies to be careful transporting him. He has spent two months at State Hospital South in Blackfoot. Doctors concluded his condition was unlikely to improve.

If Mason is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to a life sentence.

Deputies with the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office in Texas arrested Mason on Oct. 10, 2019. He was living under the alias Walter James Allison. The Custer County Sheriff’s Office had re-issued a warrant for his arrest in July 2019. His stepdaughter learned last summer he was wanted for murder.

Mason is accused of shooting and killing Daniel Woolley at a bar in Clayton on Sept. 22, 1980. Woolley was 52 at the time. Woolley, who grew up in Clayton, was shot in the head with a .22-caliber pistol following a brawl outside the now-closed Sports Club bar, the bar owner who witnessed the incident, identified as Maggie in a December 1980 newspaper story, told the Post Register.

On Sept. 22, 1980, Mason got into an altercation at the Sports Club in Clayton. He was verbally and physically assaulting his wife, Candice, when several men at the bar stepped in and forced him out, The Messenger reported in September 1980. Those men were Daniel Woolley, Robert Sweeney and an unidentified man believed to be Sweeney’s son.

Once outside, The Messenger story states, Mason crossed the highway to his truck. He returned to the bar wielding two pistols. He shot Woolley in the head killing him instantly. Mason then entered the bar and fired five to six more rounds, hitting Sweeney in the shoulder.

Several men subdued and disarmed Mason, who slipped away in the aftermath of his attack, the 1980 story in The Messenger stated. He went in the Silver Bar across the highway, where he asked for “my last drink, as I have just killed a man.” He finished his drink, made a phone call and left the bar. This was his last sighting in Clayton.

A 1980 wanted poster described Mason as an armed and dangerous suspect with scars on his chest and arms. The wanted poster also said Mason went by the aliases Walter Frosch and Walter Allison and that he had lost muscle control to the left side of his face.

The Custer County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the FBI searched for Mason but could not locate him after the shooting. The Custer County Sheriff’s Office later believed Mason may have fled to Montana or Nevada, according to court records.

The incident shook the town of Clayton and even closed down the school, the Post Register reported in 1980. Mason’s estranged wife was apparently the only teacher at the Custer School at the time and the publicity of the incident caused her to relocate to Challis, the Post Register reported. Because of her departure from the school, all Clayton students were bused to Challis to attend school, the Post Register reported.