Former Judge Lance Mason Pleads Guilty To Killing Ex-Wife Aisha Fraser

Lance Mason mug shot
Former state legislator and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason faces life in prison for the murder of his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser. [Shaker Heights Police Department]

Former state legislator and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason pleaded guilty Tuesday to the brutal murder of his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser, last November.

He faces life in prison without parole.

Mason was to be tried on six felony counts, including aggravated murder, murder and felonious assault, in the stabbing death of Fraser, a Shaker Heights teacher. He also faced three other charges, including grand theft and felonious assault of a peace officer. While fleeing, Mason rammed a Shaker Heights police cruiser and injured patrol officer Adam Flynt.

Mason offered few comments during the hearing, which was presided over by retired Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas. Judges in Cuyahoga County recused themselves from hearing the former judge’s case.  

“My decision was to not go trial and admit my guilt,” said Mason, who orginally pleaded not guilty. He also said he waived his right to trial because he didn’t want his daughter on the stand.

“There was no way I was going to let my daughter testify against me,” Mason said Tuesday, his voice breaking.

Mason will be sentenced Sept. 12. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley says he wants Mason behind bars permanently.

“Our goal was that Lance Mason serves every day, the rest of his life incarcerated in a penal facility in the state of Ohio,” O’Malley said. “He faces life without parole and our goal is that he receives that.”

Convicting Mason had been a goal since the November 2018 murder, said the prosecutor, recalling the horrific crime scene.

“You don’t see many crime scenes like that,” O’Malley said. “On that day I knew, the resolution to this case would be him pleading to the indictment. It was that terrible and that’s why the only fitting resolution would be what we saw today.”

O’Malley said he is convinced Mason went to the house specifically to kill Fraser.

“He was out to murder her that day, and whether his children were there, whether the neighbors were there, whether his sister was there, he was going to kill her on that morning,” O’Malley said.

Fraser's murder prompted Ohio lawmakers to attempt to overhaul how domestic violence cases are handled in Ohio. House Bill 3, known as "Aisha's Law," is currently waiting for action in committee, but Republican House Speaker Larry Householder said this spring it was on his list of high-prioirty bills.

Mason previously served nine months of a two-year prison sentence for physically assaulting Fraser in 2014. Fraser was so badly beaten by her then-husband that she needed facial reconstruction surgery; she filed for divorce two days later. As a condition of Mason’s release for that conviction, visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove prohibited him from any contact with Fraser. Cosgrove also placed Mason on probation for five years and ordered him to complete anger management classes.

Mason, a former Democratic state lawmaker, served as a common pleas judge from 2008 to 2015. He resigned from the bench after pleading guilty to attempted felonious assault and domestic violence.

After Mason’s release from prison in 2016, the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct sought to have him disbarred. Numerous prominent officials wrote in support of Mason as he fought the revocation of his license but the Ohio Supreme Court suspended his law license indefinitely in December 2017. 

The city of Cleveland hired Mason in 2017 to work on minority business development. He was fired shortly after his arrest last year.

On Tuesday, O’Malley said Mason would pay for his crimes.

“He does not deserve any breaks. [Mason] needs to serve the rest of his life in prison,” he said.

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