A disgraced former Ohio judge who went to prison in 2014 for beating his then-wife has pleaded guilty to stabbing her to death in front of their children.
On Tuesday, former Cuyahoga County Judge Lance Mason pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and other charges in the November 2018 death of his ex-wife Aisha Fraser.
Mason faces life in prison without parole.
On November 17, Shaker Heights police officers responded to a 911 call made by Mason’s sister saying Mason had stabbed his estranged wife outside her home.
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley told reporters outside the courtroom on Tuesday that Mason had been “lying in wait” for Fraser to drop off their two children at his sister’s home.
“He was on a singular mission to murder her that day,” O’Malley said. “Absolutely. That was his goal and whether his children were there, whether neighbors were there, whether his sister was there he was going to kill her on that morning.”
While O’Malley would not say what motivated Mason to kill his wife, he did reveal he had been angry about something that happened a few days earlier related to “just being a parent.”
“There’s nothing, no reason, no act that should ever cause a human being to lash out and murder another human being,” O’Malley said. “I don’t care what he thinks or what he thought justified it. Nothing justifies it.”
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In 2015, Mason was sentenced to prison for domestic violence after he punched Fraser 20 times and slammed her head against the dashboard of their car five times the year before, WKYC reports. Fraser had to have facial reconstruction surgery while Mason was subsequently removed from the bench.
Mason was also a former state representative and state senator.
After serving nine months, Mason was granted judicial release. In a letter written to Fraser as part of his petition for early release, Mason apologized for his actions.
Fraser was a teacher at Woodbury Elementary School. She had worked in the school system in Shaker Heights, where her two children were students, for 16 years, according to The Washington Post.
O’Malley said his office “never” considered offering Mason a chance to plead guilty to lesser charges. He plans to fighting for Mason to remain behind bars for his entire life.
“Domestic violence and this kind of domestic abuse crosses all socioeconomic classes and races, and the reality is we see it too often in this community,” O’Malley said Tuesday. “By making him accept every count, we’re attempting to send the message to the people in this county that it will not be tolerated.”