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Friday, November 5, 2021

The Lance T. Mason Murder Case

     In 1985, Lance T. Mason graduated from Shaker Heights High School in upscale suburban Cleveland, Ohio. After earning his B.A. from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, Mason received a law degree from the University of Michigan. Not long out of law school, Mason became an assistant prosecuting attorney for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. From 2002 to 2006, he served as an elected representative in the Ohio House of Representatives. 

     Lance Mason, in 2007, advanced his political career by being elected to Ohio's 25th State Senate District. A year later, Ohio governor Ted Strickland appointed him to fill a judicial vacancy on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. After seven years on the bench, the arc of Judge Mason's career in law took a sudden downward turn.

     On August 2, 2014, police officers took the judge into custody after he punched his wife Aisha Fraser twenty times and bashed her head five times against the dashboard of their vehicle. During the attack, he also bit her and threatened to kill her. The couple's children, four and six, witnessed the prolonged assault.

     Aisha Fraser, a sixth grade teacher in the Shaker Heights School District, was so badly injured she had to undergo reconstructive surgery on her face. Following Judge Mason's arrest, detectives searched his home and found an array of handguns, 2,500 rounds of ammunition, a bulletproof vest, smoke grenades, semi-automatic rifles, and a sword.

     Two days after the assault, Aisha Fraser filed for divorce. (She later sued her ex-husband and won $150,000 in damages.)

     On August 13, 2015, Lance Mason was allowed to plead guilty to attempted felonious assault and domestic violence in return for a sentence of two years. Following his sentencing, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty told reporters that "I am confident he [Mason] will leave prison rehabilitated and will again be an asset to our community." 
     On September 3, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court suspended Lance Mason from practicing law. The convicted felon, a couple of weeks later, resigned from his seat on the bench.

      While sentenced lightly for two years, the man who severely beat his wife walked out of prison after serving only nine months behind bars. As a condition of his early release, Mason was ordered to write his ex-wife a letter of apology.

     Shortly following the ex-judge's early--most would say premature--release from prison, Cleveland Mayor Frank Johnson hired the convicted wife beater as a minority business development director.

     On Saturday, November 17, 2018, the dispatcher with the Shaker Heights Police Department received a frantic call from Lance Mason's sister who reported that her brother had just stabbed his ex-wife Aisha Fraser to death in his home. The victim had arrived at Mason's house to drop off their children for a visit.

     As police officers rolled up to the murder scene, Mason, in his attempt to avoid custody, stole his ex-wife's car and drove into a police vehicle, seriously injuring the officer. Police arrested Mason after he ran back to his house after crashing into the police car. The injured officer was rushed to the hospital.

     On November 29, 2018, a grand jury sitting in Cleveland indicted Lance Mason on charges of felonious assault, violating a protection order, and grand theft of his 45-year-old ex-wife's car. A week later, the grand jury indicted the 51-year-old former judge on the charge of aggravated murder. At his arraignment hearing, Lance Mason pleaded not guilty to all charges. He was held in the Cuyahoga County Jail on $5 million bond.
     On September 12, 2029, after pleading guilty to the murder of Alisha Fraser, the judge sentenced the 34-year-old defendant to life in prison with the chance of parole in 30 years. Mr. Mason was sentenced to an additional five years for violating probation, assaulting a police officer and stealing his ex-wife's car. 

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