Former Ohio Judge Who Beat His Wife Is Arrested in Her Stabbing Death
Mr. Williams said that Ms. Fraser lived in constant fear that Mr. Mason would attack her again and expressed frustration that the justice system had failed to protect her. A judge recently granted Mr. Mason overnight custody rights despite Ms. Fraser’s objections, Mr. Williams said.
“It’s a failure on so many levels,” Mr. Williams said on Tuesday.
Ms. Fraser had bought a plane ticket to fly to Atlanta on Thanksgiving Day to spend the holiday in Mr. Williams’s hometown with his family and friends, he said.
“It got taken away by a coward and an abuser enabled by a system that let her and her children down in an unforgivable way,” Mr. Williams said. “No one stood up to fight for her.”
Ms. Fraser was a longtime sixth-grade history and math teacher at Woodbury Elementary School in Shaker Heights, whose campus was within walking distance of her home.
“Aisha was a devoted mother and a longtime committed teacher to Woodbury students,” Stephen M. Wilkins, the interim superintendent of the Shaker Heights City School District, wrote to parents and employees on Saturday. “She touched so many of our children’s lives and will be deeply missed.”
Hundreds of people gathered at a candlelight vigil for Ms. Fraser on Monday evening outside Woodbury Elementary.
Mr. Mason was a judge on the Common Pleas Court in Cuyahoga County in August 2014 when Ms. Fraser called 911 on a Saturday afternoon to report that he had beaten her. With their children in the back seat, Mr. Mason slammed on the brakes in their S.U.V. on a Shaker Heights road and started to pummel Ms. Fraser in the passenger seat, according to the police report and court records. He slammed her head against the dashboard, and choked and bit her before he kicked her out of the car.
“My husband just beat me and threw me out of the car, and he has my two daughters in the car,” Ms. Fraser told a 911 operator, gasping for breath as she recounted what happened. “I’m afraid he’s going to hurt my daughters.”
The family had just left a funeral for Mr. Mason’s aunt.
The police found Mr. Mason inside the family’s home and their daughters unharmed in the S.U.V., which was outside the house, according to court records. Officers arrested Mr. Mason and confiscated smoke grenades, rifles, a sword, a bulletproof vest and thousands of rounds of ammunition from the house.
It was a shocking downfall for Mr. Mason, who had risen to top public positions in Cleveland and Ohio. In the late 1990s, he handled felony cases as an assistant prosecutor in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland. He was later appointed to fill a vacancy in the Ohio House of Representatives and remained there until he won a State Senate race in 2006. In 2008, the state’s Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, appointed him to become a judge in Cuyahoga County.
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Ms. Fraser filed for divorce two days after the beating but the case was still pending in court at the time of her death.
After Mr. Mason was arrested in 2014, the authorities came under criticism for the favorable treatment he appeared to have received. While he was suspended from his job, state rules allowed him to continue collecting his $121,000 salary while the case remained open.
Because of a series of court delays, Mr. Mason received about a year’s worth of pay from the time he was arrested until he pleaded guilty to felony assault in August 2015. He faced up to three years in prison but was sentenced to two. He resigned from his judgeship and was later disbarred.
“He was a good judge and a friend, but he owes society this time,” Timothy J. McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said when he was sentenced. “I am confident he will leave prison rehabilitated and will again be an asset to our community.”
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Mr. Mason served less than half of his prison sentence. After nine months in an Ohio prison, a state judge granted his request for early release in June 2016 that included a list of conditions. One requirement: He was prohibited from having any contact with Ms. Fraser, who underwent reconstructive facial surgery to repair damage that he had caused, until at least June 2021.
In a letter to his wife shortly before his release, Mr. Mason said he had learned from his mistakes and apologized. “I can’t begin to understand the harm I have done to you, our girls and your family,” he wrote.
Cleveland’s longtime mayor, Frank Jackson, hired Mr. Mason in 2017 as the city’s minority business development administrator. The city defended that decision, saying that Mr. Mason was the best candidate among a pool of 16 applicants. Representative Marcia L. Fudge, Democrat of Ohio, called him a “kind, intelligent man and loyal friend” in a letter of support that was obtained by a reporter at WOIO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Cleveland.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Fudge’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.
“This was no political favor with Lance Mason,” Mr. Jackson told WOIO-TV last November. Mr. Jackson fired him on Saturday afternoon.
Via New York Times