(CN) – A disgraced former Cleveland judge faces life in prison following his guilty plea Tuesday to the murder of his estranged ex-wife, after denying the charge last year.
Lance Mason, 51, had pleaded not guilty last December, but he changed his plea before Stark County Judge John G. Haas, who retired in April but is overseeing the case because all Cuyahoga County judges recused themselves from hearing the case involving their former colleague.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 12.
“I wish to take responsibility for my crimes,” the former judge said in court Tuesday morning.
According to prosecutors, Mason stabbed Aisha Fraser repeatedly on Nov. 17, 2018, at his sister’s home when Fraser dropped off their children. He then stole her Audi SUV and drove it into a Shaker Heights police car, seriously injuring an officer.
Two weeks later, a grand jury indicted Mason for murder, aggravated murder, grand theft, felonious assault and violation of a protection order.
“By making him accept every count, we’re attempting to send the message to the people in this county that [domestic abuse] will not be tolerated,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley told reporters after Tuesday’s court hearing,
Mason had spent nine months in prison for beating Fraser in front their three children before he was released in 2016. The couple had been married for a decade.
In that incident, Mason reportedly punched Fraser several times before slamming her head into the dashboard on their SUV. Fraser suffered a broken orbital bone. He was released early from the two-year sentence on the conditions that he take anger-management counseling and avoid contact with Fraser.
Mason had served on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas from 2008 until he resigned in 2015 after pleading to domestic violence and attempted felonious assault.
The sentencing guidelines in the murder case range from life with the possibility of parole after 20 years to life without parole.
The 45-year-old Fraser was a sixth-grade teacher in her hometown of Shaker Heights.