Fred Alan Mason Jr. originally was charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the death of his 60-year-old mother, Lillian Mason, in July 1997.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — For 20 years, the state of Florida has been trying to prosecute Fred Alan Mason Jr. for allegedly killing his mother.

On Wednesday, the 54-year-old man was transferred to the Walton County Jail from the Florida State Hospital in Chattahootchee, where he has been held on and off in a secure mental health facility since 1997.

Mason originally was charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the death of his 60-year-old mother, Lillian Mason, in July 1997. But a judge ruled he was not competent to stand trial, so Mason was sent to the hospital in Chattahoochee. The hospital deemed him competent in 2007, which led to his second indictment on the original charge, but a judge ruled again he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

According to Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille, Mason was recently determined to be competent, so he again has been transferred from Chattahoochee to the county jail.

“Assuming he remains competent, we will begin to move forward with a trial,” Marcille said. “This time he is being charged with second-degree murder.”

According to his original arrest report in July 1997, Mason was speeding in his mother’s car near Freeport when a sheriff's deputy pulled him over. Mason stopped and then drove off before he was pulled over again and arrested.

Mason had blood on his clothes and shoes, the report said. Lillian Mason later was found bludgeoned to death in Fred Mason’s small home behind hers on West Orange Avenue in DeFuniak Springs.

A brick covered with blood and hair was found in the home, the report said, and Fred Mason later reportedly told deputies he was “responsible” and that he “should be punished.”

According to the Walton County Clerk of Court website, Mason is scheduled to appear before Circuit Judge Kelvin Wells on July 20 for a status review hearing. If he ultimately is tried and convicted, Mason could face life in prison.