Former judge pleads guilty in ex-wife's stabbing death

A former county judge in Cleveland has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his ex-wife last year

CLEVELAND -- A former county judge in Cleveland pleaded guilty Tuesday to fatally stabbing his ex-wife moments after she had dropped off their two daughters last November.

Lance Mason, 51, told a visiting judge in a Cuyahoga County courtroom that he wanted to "take responsibility for my crimes," adding, "There was no way I was going to let my daughter testify against me."

Mason pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, violating a protection order and grand theft in the slaying of 45-year-old Aisha Fraser. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley refused to dismiss any charges against Mason as part of a plea deal.

He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison during sentencing Sept. 12 and the possibility of life with no chance for parole.

Defense attorney Kevin Spellacy described Tuesday's hearing as a "sad day" but declined to comment further.

Prosecutors say Mason killed Fraser, a popular middle school teacher, in the driveway of a Shaker Heights home.

Mason's sister in a 911 call described how he was covered in blood and pacing inside his home. Mason and a police officer were injured when Mason's SUV hit the officer's cruiser near the stabbing scene. Mason tried to flee on foot after the crash.

The former judge was removed from the bench in 2015 after he pleaded guilty to charges related to him striking and biting Fraser inside an SUV while their young daughters watched from the backseat. He served nine months of a two-year sentence.

Mason was hired as an administrator in the city of Cleveland's Office of Equal Opportunity in August 2017. He was fired after being arrested for Fraser's slaying.