BREAKING NEWS : Silver Alert issued for Trent D. Thomas of Fort Wayne Full Story

Ex-judge arrested after wife fatally stabbed

Lance Mason spent time in prison for attacking his wife Aisha Fraser years ago. Now he's a suspect in her death. Mason has not been charged with crimes directly stemming from Fraser's death. He is being held in an Ohio jail on one charge of felonious assault. Police say Mason rammed his car into a police vehicle, injuring an officer.

Posted: Nov 23, 2018 2:00 AM
Updated: Nov 23, 2018 2:17 AM

Lance Mason wrote a letter of apology to his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser, in April 2016 from an Ohio prison.

He was serving time for domestic violence and felonious assault for hitting Fraser and smashing her face into a car dashboard while their two daughters were in the back seat.

Mason, a former trial court judge, offered contrition for the "harm and pain" he caused their family. He pointed out all he had done to try to make amends, including counseling, prayer and accepting the court's punishment "without complaint."

"You entrusted me with your safety and the safety of our daughters. I violated that trust, and I'm sorry," he wrote in the letter. "My violence against you was the greater betrayal."

Mason left prison two months later after serving nine months. Now, less than three years later, Mason is back in custody as a suspect in Fraser's death and a northeastern Ohio town is mourning the loss of a beloved elementary school teacher.

Mason's lawyer in the domestic violence case has not returned calls or emails requesting comment. If Mason has a new lawyer, CNN has been unable to identify who it is or how to reach that person.

'There's blood everywhere'

Police say Fraser was fatally stabbed in the driveway of a Shaker Heights home on Saturday morning. Fraser was dropping off the children at Mason's home, her uncle, George Fraser, told CNN affiliate WEWS-TV.

Mason has not been charged with crimes directly stemming from Fraser's death. He is being held in an Ohio jail on one charge of felonious assault. Police say Mason rammed his car into a police vehicle, injuring an officer.

The Shaker Heights officer was responding to a 911 call to Mason's home reporting that Mason had stabbed Fraser.

In audio of the call, a woman who identifies herself as Mason's sister tells a 911 operator that her brother was "attacking" Fraser.

"We're going to need an ambulance," Lynn Mason is heard saying in the audio released by Shaker Heights Police.

From inside the home, where she was with the couple's children, Lynn Mason said she could hear Fraser screaming. When she went outside, she encountered a grim scene.

"He stabbed her. He said she's dead," Lynn Mason says on the recording, as a child screams and cries in the background.

"He walked in. There's blood everywhere."

An officer was sent to the scene and parked across the street from the home. An affidavit says Mason accelerated his vehicle into the officer's vehicle "while fleeing the scene of a homicide in which he was the suspect." As a result of an initial investigation, Mason was taken into custody, police said.

Shaker Heights Police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said Mason has no scheduled court appearance at this time.

The domestic violence incident in 2014

Mason was a sitting judge on Cuyahoga County's Court of Common Pleas when he was charged with eight counts in August 2014, including felonious assault, domestic violence, kidnapping and endangering children.

He had been on the bench since 2008, according to his personnel file. He was indefinitely suspended from practicing law in 2017.

Before then, he served as an Ohio state senator from January 2007 to September 2008, and previously was a state representative, where he served as ranking minority member of the House Criminal Justice Committee for five years. He was also an assistant county prosecutor for three years in the 1990s.

Fraser moved out of the family's home after the couple separated in March 2014, according to documents from Mason's state bar disciplinary hearing. They shared custody of the children and use of a car, and saw each other regularly at church and on dates.

Court documents provide the following account for the events of August 2, 2014:

The two were driving back to Fraser's apartment from a funeral for Mason's aunt when they began fighting.

Mason became upset and struck Fraser repeatedly in the head and hit her head against the passenger door window, the armrest and the dashboard. He also bit her on the face.

Their children were in the back seat, and the youngest daughter screamed. When Fraser tried to flee the vehicle Mason held her back by her hair. When she succeeded in exiting she fell to the ground, and Mason ran out of the car and continued striking her. He left her there and returned to his home with the children and placed a call to his sister, saying he intended to shoot himself.

Fraser was hospitalized for severe injuries to her face, head and neck, including a fracture under her left eye that required a surgical implant, the court documents say.

Mason pleaded guilty in 2015 to felonious assault and domestic violence in a deal with prosecutors, who dropped the rest of the charges in exchange for 24 months in prison and six months in county jail.

In June 2016, Mason's lawyer requested a motion for a judicial release that would set Mason free before his 24-month prison sentence was up. He included Mason's April 2016 letter to his wife, plus another one to his daughters.

"The defendant acknowledges that he can't undo the harm that he caused his family, albeit, growth and insight should be important factors when considering whether the defendant should be granted an early release," lawyer Fernando Mack wrote in the motion.

The court granted his motion and Mason was released on probation in June 2016, according to court documents. He was ordered to have no contact with Fraser.

In August 2017, the city of Cleveland hired Mason as a minority business development administrator, according to his personnel records. The city was aware of his criminal record and approved the hire with a pay rate of $45,000.

Mason's employment with the city has been terminated, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said Saturday.

Now, Fraser's death is raising questions about whether her ex-husband should have been released early. It has also drawn one of his past allies into the spotlight. Ohio US Rep. Marcia Fudge, a longtime friend and colleague of Mason's, wrote a letter of support for him before he went to prison.

"My support of Lance in 2015 was based on the person I knew for almost 30 years. The person who committed these crimes is not the Lance Mason familiar to me. They were horrific crimes, and I condemn them," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

"My heart breaks for Aisha Fraser. I pray for Aisha's family, especially her children, as they attempt to deal with this tragedy."

She was loved by many

Fraser's death shocked the Shaker Heights community, where she was known as a loving and devoted sixth-grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary School. All schools in the district closed Monday and Tuesday and grief counseling was offered. A vigil was held Monday.

"We are in deep mourning. Aisha exemplified the best of Shaker Heights teachers: smart, amazingly caring of her students and her colleagues, active in her profession and in our association. She is loved by many," the Shaker Heights Teachers' Association said in a statement.

Fraser's uncle told CNN affiliate WJW his niece provided people with hope.

"As an elementary school teacher she just had a special gift in connecting with young people and teaching them," he said.

"She was pure love."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36578

Reported Deaths: 2258
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10188604
Lake3876207
Allen181071
Cass15919
Elkhart158528
St. Joseph135838
Hendricks120478
Hamilton119194
Johnson1125113
Madison60061
Porter56233
Clark53942
Bartholomew53139
LaPorte44824
Howard44236
Tippecanoe4344
Jackson4012
Delaware39741
Shelby39722
Hancock35427
Boone32436
Floyd31941
Vanderburgh2913
Morgan28626
Noble27821
Montgomery24917
Clinton2471
White2399
Decatur23132
Grant22923
Dubois2113
Kosciusko2052
Harrison19622
Marshall1872
Henry18512
Vigo1828
Greene17226
Dearborn17122
Monroe17113
Lawrence17124
Warrick16729
Miami1461
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
LaGrange1282
Scott1263
Franklin1168
Ripley1086
Daviess10416
Carroll952
Wayne906
Steuben902
Wabash812
Newton8010
Fayette797
Jasper741
Jay580
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Fulton511
Washington501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb451
Starke423
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Wells350
Owen341
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford250
Adams231
Switzerland220
Spencer221
Fountain222
Gibson202
Parke180
Posey160
Martin140
Warren131
Ohio130
Vermillion100
Union100
Pike60
Unassigned0180

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37758

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6323295
Cuyahoga4789265
Hamilton2811171
Marion268832
Lucas2329263
Pickaway209938
Summit1529181
Mahoning1486191
Butler97532
Columbiana89453
Stark803102
Montgomery73417
Lorain73061
Trumbull60052
Belmont44915
Warren40721
Medina37624
Tuscarawas3714
Ashtabula36938
Miami36730
Delaware36014
Portage33557
Lake32512
Clark3237
Fairfield3188
Wood30649
Geauga30334
Wayne29651
Licking27110
Mercer2278
Richland2224
Allen22133
Clermont2195
Darke19023
Erie18416
Madison1647
Washington11819
Crawford1184
Morrow1081
Ottawa10717
Greene1065
Putnam9514
Sandusky9112
Monroe8015
Auglaize773
Hardin730
Ross732
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Huron611
Williams581
Holmes573
Union561
Muskingum561
Hancock531
Coshocton480
Wyandot482
Clinton471
Shelby473
Fulton450
Logan430
Fayette410
Preble391
Guernsey382
Carroll353
Defiance342
Brown311
Lawrence301
Highland291
Champaign281
Seneca262
Knox251
Ashland230
Vinton212
Perry191
Athens181
Scioto180
Henry170
Jackson150
Paulding140
Adams111
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
63° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Sunny & Pleasant Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events