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‘It is a slap in the face’: jailhouse video enrages family of slain woman from Essex


The family of Juliana Pannunzio has discovered a social media post — filmed inside a cell — they say is the man accused of killing their daughter.

“He's in jail, living his best life. Celebrating his birthday. Listening to music. Got a cellphone. Smoking a joint. It's a spit in our face. It’s so unbelievable,” says Lisa Mulcaster, Pannunzio’s biological mother.

“He was enjoying his moment. His day. His birthday. It's insulting,” Shellie Pannunzio, Juliana’s “bonus mom” tells CTV News.

The video, which CTV News has been unable to independently verify, allegedly shows Christopher Lucas in his cell smoking what appears to be marijuana, with another inmate in the background.

The video was posted on Reddit. The account holder has not responded to CTV News’ requests for verification.

“The ministry (of the Solicitor General) takes matters of this nature very seriously and has launched a full investigation,” spokesperson Brent Ross told CTV News in an email. “The ministry continues to build on existing technology and tactics to combat contraband in correctional facilities.”

Lucas’ defence lawyer, John Fitzmaurice, has not responded to repeated emails from CTV News.

Lucas is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Jan. 19, 2021 shooting in Fort Erie that claimed the life of 20-year-old Juliana Pannunzio and Christine Crooks, an 18-year-old from Toronto.

Toronto Police say Lucas is also known as ‘El Plaga.’

Mulcaster and Pannunzio discovered the video through a friend during a preliminary hearing on the case, which continues in St. Catharines in December.

“It is a slap in the face to Juliana and Christine's memory,” says Pannunzio. “The rest of us are still suffering their loss and he seems to be celebrating it. That's the way we view it.”

Juliana’s mothers want the video removed from Reddit and both have emailed ministry officials with no reply.

“There's rules and regulations. There's laws that we all have to follow. That is the same whether you're on the outside or whether you're on the inside,” says Mulcaster.

The Pannunzio family has a lasting memorial setup in their home, of daughter Juliana, killed at age 20. Pictured in Essex, Ont. on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023 (Michelle Maluske/CTV News Windsor)


Although the day they found out about Juliana’s death was the hardest, Mulcaster and Pannunzio say, it was the day they let all of their past problems fade away.

“After everything that happened with Juliana, anything from the past — it was gone. It's gone,” says Pannunzio.

“Like it never happened,” adds Mulcaster. “You know moms… they don't get along because you become jealous or you think that they're (your children) gonna like them better and it causes a lot of animosity where didn't need to be. I should have been thankful.”

“She loved us both,” concludes Pannunzio.

Mulcaster says Juliana’s ‘only wish’ was for the two mothers in her life to get along and be “one big happy family.”

Now that their shared trauma is before the courts — in the middle of a preliminary hearing — Pannunzio and Mulcaster say they sit together every day, supporting each other through their grief.

“We're going to do it together,” says Pannunzio. “We couldn't do it separately,” adds Mulcaster.

“We've invested a lot to be up there (in St. Catharines) every single day as a family to show our support. To show that Juliana meant something to us. To just be her voice because she doesn't have one any longer,” says Pannunzio.

Juliana Pannunzio, 20, was killed in a shooting on Jan. 19, 2021 in Fort Erie. (Courtesy: Shellie Pannunzio)


Three people, including Lucas, have been charged as a result of the investigation into Pannunzio and Crooks’ deaths.

Trevor Barnett, of Scarborough, is facing two counts of first-degree murder.

Heidi Bahler, also from Scarborough, is facing two charges, one count of accessory after the fact to murder and one count of obstructing justice.

Their joint preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Dec. 12, 2023, in the St. Catharines courthouse.

The evidence presented at the hearing is subject to a publication ban. 

A rental home on the Niagara River Parkway in Fort Erie, Ont. (Courtesy NewsTalk 610 CKTB) Top Stories

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