CLEVELAND — Former Cuyahoga County judge Lance Mason pleaded guilty to the murder of his ex-wife, Aisha Fraser, on Tuesday.
He will be sentenced Sept. 12 at 1 p.m.
Mason was accused of killing Fraser outside a Chagrin Boulevard home in November. He said he changed his plea so that his family and Fraser's family would not have to endure a trial.
"I wish to take responsibility for the crimes I've committed," a choked up Mason said to Judge John G. Haas. "I don't wish to prolong it or delay it, or hurt my family or Aisha's family anymore than I have.
"There's no way I was going to let my daughter testify against me," Mason added.
By pleading guilty, Mason will also have to register as a violent offender.
Sources told WKYC that Fraser's body was found in the driveway, and that she was at the home to drop off the couple's children for a visitation. Fraser reportedly owned the home and was allowing Mason's sister to live there.
Police say Mason stabbed Fraser to death before he tried to flee the scene in her car. Mason rammed the stolen vehicle into a police cruiser, causing injuries to an officer. Mason was also hospitalized after he was apprehended.
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office says the couple's 8-year-old daughter witnessed the stabbing and ran inside the home to alert Mason's sister, who called police.
A grand jury indicted Mason on aggravated murder charges Nov. 29, and prosecutors said they will not pursue the death penalty in the case. In addition to aggravated murder, Mason also pleaded guilty to murder, felonious assault, violating a protection order and grand theft. The harshest sentence Mason faces is life in prison without parole. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charges Dec. 4.
It wasn't the first time Mason acted violently toward Fraser, who was a beloved Shaker Heights teacher.
Mason pleaded guilty in 2015 to attempted felonious assault and domestic violence and served nine months in prison after he punched his wife 20 times and slammed her head against a car dashboard five times as they drove with their children. His wife’s injuries required reconstructive surgery. According to court documents, his wife sued him in civil court and was awarded a $150,000 judgment.
Mason, who was also a former state representative and state senator, was removed from his judge seat roughly a month after the August 2014 incident. His status as a convicted felon prohibits him from serving as an Ohio judge in the future, and the Ohio Supreme Court has also indefinitely prohibited him from practicing law.
Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson hired Mason in 2017 to serve as the city’s director of minority business administrator. The city fired Mason the day of his November 2018 arrest.